- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MONROE, La. (AP) - Northeast Delta Human Services Authority has joined efforts with Franklin Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 and Morehouse Community Medical Centers to provide services for patients who need both behavioral and primary health care.

Under the agreement, Northeast Delta will accept appropriate referrals from the Franklin hospital district and Morehouse medical centers to provide major mental health and substance abuse disorder services. The Franklin district and Morehouse centers will accept appropriate referrals from Northeast Delta to provide primary health and dental care services to patients who do not require services for serious mental illnesses.

Northeast Delta Human Services Authority director Dr. Monteic Sizer tells The News-Star (http://tnsne.ws/Rlx8Cw ) he hopes the partnership will serve as a model for other health care providers.

The authority’s goal is to establish a unified behavioral health and primary health network for the entire region so patients in each parish do not have to travel long distances for both health care services.

A movement is happening nationally to combine primary health care and behavioral health care, and while there have been some state initiatives to combine these two services, Sizer said little has been done.

“This is a unique and rare partnership with a broad coalition of health care providers. We will have the whole region coordinated on primary and behavioral health.

The authority is looking for more partnerships with hospitals and federally-qualified clinics to expand services and reach more patients in northeastern Louisiana, Sizer said.

“This is an ambitious goal but within a few months we want to have almost every rural hospital signed up. Our end goal is to improve the health outcomes in this region by forming partnerships based on trust and respect for what we’re trying to accomplish. We hope by this time next year we will see a decrease in all the negative data related to our health aspects of our citizens,” Sizer said.

The authority will host a summit in July that highlights the need for partnerships with primary and behavioral health care services and efforts to improve capacity of both services in the region.

Northeast Delta Human Services is under Louisiana Department of Health and Hospital’s Office of Behavioral Health.

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Information from: The News-Star, http://www.thenewsstar.com