A partnership to create a new outpatient health care campus for the city that would incorporate mental health treatment appears to be arriving on the scene with remarkably good timing.
As President Obama commented last week in detailing his expectations for actions in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., slayings: “We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun.”
At nearly the same time that the president was addressing a press conference, Lawrence Memorial Hospital’s trustees were getting details of plans for the health care campus from David Johnson, CEO of Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center; Jon Stewart, chief executive at Heartland Community Health Center; and John McGrew, local businessman who leads the program Outside for a Better Inside. They outlined proposals for the campus, which would be created on 13 acres a block away from LMH at the site of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post near Second and Alabama streets.
The proposal would create a facility in which primary care physicians would be co-located with mental health care providers and all would be available to work together to treat patients. McGrew’s group would provide a walking trail and observation area and perhaps other facilities on the campus grounds.
At stake is treatment for an estimated additional 11,000 people in Douglas County who will have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act when it is fully implemented in 2014. “If we do nothing, a big impact will be on the hospital’s emergency room,” Johnson said.
Bert Nash is preparing a fundraising plan to assist in getting the facility established. Initial concepts have suggested the facility could cost $6 to $8 million, although planning continues and the amount, as well as the proposed facilities, will be refined.
The three entities involved in the project all are well known and respected. Their reputations suggest that the community can anticipate that the final proposal brought forward for support will be first-class and well conceived. They’re to be commended for their vision and activism. As well as their timing!