Livingston HealthCare Receives Grant to Integrate Behavioral Health into Emergency and Inpatient Care

The Montana Healthcare Foundation has awarded Livingston HealthCare Foundation a $75,000 grant to hire a licensed clinical social worker to further integrate behavioral health resources for Emergency Department patients and hospital inpatients.

Behavioral health is the field of medicine dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of mental health, substance abuse and associated physical disorders.

"Like most of rural Montana, we face a great shortage of local resources—and access to services—for patients in behavioral health crisis,” says Raymond Wright, MD, Emergency Department Director at Livingston HealthCare. “Patients often wait many hours to get a thorough psychiatric evaluation in the emergency department due to over-extended regional staff that must travel between facilities. A grant to fund a specially-trained mental health worker for Livingston HealthCare is a huge help for our patients.”

“Eighty-one patients experiencing a behavioral health crisis visited Livingston HealthCare’s emergency room in the past three months,” adds Stacy Kohler, LHC’s Emergency Department Manager and Trauma Program Coordinator. In the United States, one-in-eight emergency room visits are for behavioral and mental health cases, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The grant aims to improve the overall quality of behavioral health care, reduce suicide rates in Park County and surrounding communities, mitigate substance abuse and ebb behavioral health-related incarcerations.

“A licensed clinical social worker will be able to assess patient needs, organize follow-up visits, and help patients connect with the appropriate resources,” says Kohler. “The goal is to ensure that patients have access to the services they need, both here at Livingston HealthCare and once they leave.”

Over the next 24 months, the grant will also help expand on and complement the behavioral health strategies already being integrated into primary care at Livingston HealthCare.