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Last Updated On May 24, 2018
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Issue Sheet – Behavioral Health

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Since 2005, Central Health has served as a convener of local behavioral health stakeholders dedicated to increasing and improving services for Travis County residents. Today, Central Health and Integral Care serve as co-conveners of these efforts, with the support of leadership from the city of Austin, Travis County, private hospitals, partners and community foundations. These collaborations have led to:

  • New facilities and resources for psychiatric crisis care
  • Greater integration of primary care and behavioral health services

Integrated care

In partnership with Integral Care—Travis County’s Local Mental Health Authority—Central Health’s E-Merge Program co-locates behavioral health services within patients’ primary care medical home:

  • Provides Medical Access Program (MAP) patients behavioral health care services at CommUnityCare locations
  • Concurrently addresses improvements in patients’ physical and behavioral health
  • Supported through $1.9 million annual CommUnityCare investment

Crisis care

Since 2006, Central Health has supported a variety of psychiatric hospital and crisis services through its partnership with Integral Care:

  • $8 million in annual support from the Community Care Collaborative—Central Health’s non-profit partnership with Seton Healthcare Family—for inpatient hospitalizations, crisis stabilization and respite care beds
  • Value-based payment system incentivizes providers to better guide patients from hospital to community-based care, thus reducing hospital readmissions and wait times
  • A $1 per-year lease for Central Health property provided Integral Care land to build and open a new 16-bed mental health crisis facility in 2017

Texas Brain Health planning initiative

In 2017, the Texas Legislature prioritized the redesign of the aging Austin State Hospital, a state-managed psychiatric facility providing care for residents of a 38-county region of Central and Southeast Texas. For Central Health this work includes:

  • Participating on the steering committee of regional leaders in behavioral health, health care, emergency services and stakeholders led by Dr. Steve Strakowski, Dell Medical School chair of psychiatry;
  • Utilizing a planning grant in 2018 to design a continuum of care from the hospital to community-based settings;
  • Redesigning campus facilities to serve as a regional hub, including hospital care, outpatient services and research activities.

Pilot projects

The Community Care Collaborative continues to support pilot projects designed to integrate medical and behavioral health services, including:

  • Launching a medication-assisted treatment pilot program in coordination with Integral Care in 2017 to provide wraparound services for patients with opioid use disorders;
  • Increasing patient access to psychiatric services by offering telemedicine at primary care locations;
  • Implementation of an integrated behavioral health intervention model for chronic disease management at the Central Health Southeast Health & Wellness Center.