Behavioral Health Partnership
A $100,000 Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant was recently awarded to Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department (ELVPHD) in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) College of Nursing-Northern Division, and Midtown Health Center, Inc., the local Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), and Region 4 Behavioral Health System.
The project, "Partnering for Behavioral Health in Rural Northeast and North Central Nebraska," will allow for the formalization of a Behavioral Health Network geared towards enhancing access to behavioral health. The project's physical site location is Norfolk, NE, but because Norfolk attracts patients and students from a significant radius, it is anticipated that this project could indirectly benefit clients and health care providers from 24 counties located in northeast and north central Nebraska. All 24 counties have been designated as mental health professional shortage areas and as medically underserved communities.
Grant funds will be used to create a plan for recruiting and retaining behavioral health (psychiatrists and advanced-practice psychiatric nurse practitioners) students to complete their residencies/field experiences in north central or northeast Nebraska. By helping this rural area enhance their potential to attract and keep behavioral health students, the likelihood that these medical providers will stay in this area as they establish their rural practices increases. "This is an exciting project and a new endeavor for the health department. When the community named access to behavioral health as their second highest concern in 2013, we knew that we had to act. It is a privilege to serve as the lead for a project. We hope to make a meaningful difference by doing something to correct this vital issue in our community," said Gina Uhing, Health Director from Elkhorn Logan Valley Public Health Department.
Community leaders and medical providers are encouraged to email Jon Bailey (email@example.com), the project's Network Director, if they are interested in finding out how they can become involved.