According to a 2021 report from the American Psychological Association, more healthcare providers should start focusing on treating their patients’ behavioral health. The Monitor on Psychology report says Americans have been deeply affected by the ongoing pandemic, political strife, economic downturn, and other factors, which could have serious health and social consequences for years to come.
Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services is also looking to expand its offerings. As behavioral health becomes a more important part of overall patient care, CPNHS patients will soon benefit from the construction of a new facility.
The US Indian Health Service awarded $2 million to CPN’s Behavioral Health Department to build a 6,700 square foot clinic. The federal grant program is intended to help tribal nations build, expand or upgrade facilities.
“The CPNHS has been very fortunate,” said Dr. Adam Vascellaro, director of the CPNHS. “This award from IHS is the first of its kind we have ever received. He says we have matured enough as a health service to qualify. We have 20,000 users and 10,000 active patients. There has been a lot of demand for behavioral health due to COVID, lockdowns, sick family members, and personal illnesses. It was difficult.
“Most of the behavioral health and addictions programs I have visited in Oklahoma and the United States are housed in old or outdated buildings, often not designed for the unique needs of our patients,” said Dr. Ryan Adams, CPNHS Behavioral Health Coordinator. and staff psychiatrist. “While our current building has served us well for many years, CPNHS patients will be delighted to see that CPN values and prioritizes behavioral health and the treatment of substance use disorders by building a whole new building designed from the ground up to meet the needs of our patients.”
The current clinic is 4,300 square feet and care is provided by eight professional staff, including a psychiatrist, three psychologists and five counsellors. The new building is expected to house more providers, therapy rooms, larger space for group therapy, and a planned viewing platform.
“Our staff will have the space and resources to best allocate their assessments and treatment modalities, as the building is designed with these services in mind,” Adams said. “After growing in our current building to the point where we had to repurpose so many areas, we plan to once again have a dedicated conference room where we can meet to collaborate on cases, build a team and help each other grow. through educational events.”
Adams said while they haven’t finalized the specific treatment services that will be offered in the new building, the potential to add new services is great and will likely include bringing in additional providers and staff.
The Nation is one of the few behavioral health care providers in Pottawatomie County, with more than half of patients residing in the Shawnee and Tecumseh areas. The current waiting period to be seen by a provider averages two months. A larger facility will help the Nation provide faster access to care, long-term patient follow-up, and increased engagement for existing patients.
In a state hard hit by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and other challenges, Adams said he believes access to behavioral health services will continue to be needed. Current CPN patients have been negatively impacted by financial or employment-related difficulties; health care or illness; and many other stressors.
“The demand for behavioral health and substance use disorder services will continue to grow in the years to come,” Adams said. “As long as there is stress in the world, there will be a need for good, caring providers who can help people manage it.”
Recruiting providers in rural Oklahoma can be challenging for health systems, Vascellaro said. Something as simple as offering new or updated installs can help.
“Tribal health care facilities face challenges recruiting and retaining providers, turnover can be high. If we can provide more comfortable care, so many little things matter,” Vascellaro said.
The CPN applied for the federal funds in 2020. In fiscal year 2020, IHS awarded a total of $25 million to qualified applicants. The Nation received the maximum amount of $2 million.
Applicants had to demonstrate their need for the project, their capacity to provide services and their construction capacity as well as their own financial contribution. On November 12, 2020, the Nation’s Legislature approved a $275,000 contribution to the project, bringing the total estimated value of the project to over $2.2 million.
Once construction begins, it is expected to be completed within 24 months. The property’s grounds are just 800 meters from CPN East Clinic.
CPN integrates behavioral health into a patient’s primary care to support physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Primary care providers often refer their patients to behavioral health, while many other patients refer themselves. The Nation’s Department of Behavioral Health offers patient-centered, culture-based assessments and assessments; evidence-based therapy services for individuals, couples and families; group therapy; medication assessment and management; and crisis interventions with indigenous peoples living in the region.
The Citizen Potawatomi Nation Behavioral Health Department is accredited by the Association for Ambulatory Health Care. Learn more at cpn.news/CPNBH.