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Well Care clinic aims to help defragment services offered as part of mental health care

Michael’s downward spiral started five years ago after he lost his job.

“I was really depressed. I had really bad anxiety issues,” said Michael, who withheld his last name. “I tried hurting myself quite a few times.”

After being hospitalized for those attempts, he was faced with a new set of problems.

“The medication they were giving me was really, really bad,” Michael said. “I couldn’t walk or anything. I was really sick.”

Michael said he is amazed at how far he has come since he was first referred to a Well Care Services facility in August 2015. Well Care Behavioral and Medical Clinic recently celebrated the opening of its newest location at 5412 Boulder Highway. In partnership with Amerigroup Nevada, a Medicaid-managed care organization with approximately 162,000 Clark County members, the 8,200-square-foot clinic offers wrap-around services aimed at breaking the cycle of despair experienced by people like Michael.

Well Care offers solutions to people struggling with economic and behavioral (substance and/or mental) challenges that impact their overall health. The goal of the new clinic is to “take a person from complete hopelessness back into community living,” said Well Care Services founder and president Marce Casal.

Lack of ID, transportation and housing can undo everything

“(When) a guy is homeless, everybody just wants to Band-Aid him and shove him (out the door),” Casal said. “But he doesn’t have the tools to get to Step B (because) Step A isn’t done. He doesn’t have ID. No one will touch him without ID.”

Well Care case managers help clients obtain birth certificates so they can obtain official IDs and begin to access the system.

“We go to Clark County with them,” Casal said. “We do runs with 10 to 12 people at a time. We pay for that.”

Patients often miss critical medical and psychiatric therapy appointments because they have no access to transportation. Well Care provides that transportation component. Four vans average around 50 client pickups per day.

“If we didn’t have the pickups, that would be 50 members that wouldn’t come here,” Casal added. “In the past, you had a doctor over here; you have a case manager agency over here — nobody had pharmacy. They don’t even have a ride to get to the clinic — (services) were fragmented.”

He also pointed out another hurdle: “If they don’t have housing, it’s a moot point because they are going to keep going back to the hospital. They have their meds with them now, but they still don’t have shelter.”

According to the Well Care website, a short-term housing component is specifically designed for the purpose of transitioning patients from an inpatient setting (hospital) to the appropriate level of short-term residential care. Well Care, in partnership with New Hope Placement and other housing agencies, strives to meet this need.

“Housing is a form of medical treatment,” Casal said when it comes to behavioral patients. The health plan providing Medicaid coverage realized a direct correlation in savings right away, Casal said.

“If they’ve been at the hospital 20 times in the last four months, (at average, a cost of $700 to $1,000 per day), they may be a candidate for placement,” Casal said. “House the member for 30 days until they can get on their feet.”

Treating the wholepatient

Patients with a mental illness or substance abuse issues have access to counseling with on-site psychiatrists and therapists in either private or group settings. For untreated, chronic health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, which can land the patient back in the hospital, a family physician is also on staff.

“Here, we’re knocking out two birds with one stone, and we’re treating the whole patient,” Casal said.

For a certain segment of psychiatric patients, long-acting injectable medications are available.

“When you opt in for that, you get a shot every month, and that’s it,” Casal added. “I’ve seen members go from complete psychosis to you couldn’t even tell because now they’re stable.”

Michael’s road back

“I’ve been going to all of my appointments — to therapy, seeing a psychiatrist — taking my meds on a regular basis,” Michael said. “This program really turned my life around.”

Michael’s next step is a retraining program offered by Nevada Partners Inc, an organization funded by Workforce Connections; Clark County; Goshen Community Development Coalition; the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation; the U.S. Department of Labor; and others.

Casal explained that Nevada Partners closes the loop so clients “can get a job, get off Medicaid and actually become productive citizens where they are paying taxes and are on their own. That’s the ultimate ideal outcome.”

Michael is on that path now.

“I came a long ways, and it’s amazing,” Michael said. “I never thought I’d get my life back like this. I’m happy again and loving life.”

Call 702-291-7121 or visit thewellcaregroup.com.

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