Behavioral Health Integration

Loma Linda University Health has received over $7.4 million in grant funding from the State of California Department of Health Care Services to enhance behavioral health integration across the system. The grant aims to implement services in partnership with Inland Empire Health Plan that will increase the quality of healthcare by integrating behavioral health services in areas across the organization.

Brian Distelberg, PhD, director of research at Loma Linda University Behavioral Medicine Center, said dedicated behavioral health clinicians and therapists will be integrated into specific areas/specialties within the organization to ensure patients get access to mental health services.

“This is a huge initiative the organization is taking on, and it will greatly benefit our patients and the community,” Distelberg said.

Distelberg said initially behavioral health integration will — or already has been — built into the pediatric ambulatory clinics, maternal fetal medicine, the Diabetes Treatment Center, and the Emergency Department.

Pediatric Ambulatory

Psychiatry Services and other licensed behavioral health services will be integrated into the pediatric specialty and faculty medical clinics. Outpatient services will be offered onsite in these areas. If a child needs a higher level of care, they will be referred to the Behavioral Medicine Center (BMC) for treatment. A dedicated staff member will be available to explain to parents and caregivers what services are available and help them access them. Some new services will also be put on site in the pediatric units in the hospital. These dedicated staff will act as a bridge to services when a child needs higher levels of care.

Maternal fetal medicine

Psychiatry Services and other licensed behavioral health services will be integrated into the maternal fetal medicine clinic with a focus on treating this patient population who is suffering from mental health/substance use disorders, post-partum depression, etc. If a higher level of care is needed, the patient will be referred to the BMC, and proper follow-up care will be offered to ensure the patient gets the care they need.

Diabetes Treatment Center 

The grant will bring diabetes screenings, support, and access into the BMC to ensure the extra level of care is available to patients in need.

Emergency Department 

Additional psychiatric care and coverage will be available in the emergency department with the addition of dedicated assessment nurses and more psychiatric care providers who will work with the team to modify intake and assessment measures. Patient navigators will also be assigned to work with patients to ensure they get the behavioral health services they need once they leave the hospital.

“Many patients are referred to behavioral health services when they come through the Emergency Department,” Distelberg said. “However, until now there was no accountability piece to ensure they followed up. Now, our patient navigators will work closely with patients to make sure they are taking the next step in their treatment.”

Distelberg said national studies show that behavioral health integration can improve patient outcomes. “This funding will increase capacity and make patient integration sustainable long term,” he said.

For more information on services available at the Behavioral Medicine Center, visit llubmc.org.