Greater Valley Health Clinic has expanded its services by launching its Co-Occurring Disorder Program that aims to assist adults experiencing both mental health and substance abuse disorders alowing them to receive intervention for both concurrently.
Shaunda Wegner, Director of Behavioral Health at Greater Valley Health Clinic, and a licensed clinical professional counselor and marriage and family therapist explains that the program is aimed at helping the top needs of the community.
In 2021, the Flathead County Community Health Needs Assessment found that the top two concerns in the area were mental health and substance use. In the survey, 82% of community stakeholders who are familiar with medical, mental and social determinants of health in the Flathead rated mental health as a major problem in the area and 65% rated substance use as a major problem.
“We looked at the Community Needs Assessment, and saw mental health and substance use were ranked one and two for the community needs in 2021,” Wegner said. “We felt that as a federally health qualified program and a community health center that this is where we fit to help the community.”
This research prompted the Greater Valley Health Clinic to establish the Co-Occurring Disorder Program to allow individuals to receive treatment for both disorders simultaneously while offering a low barrier to entry.
“We don’t and we won’t ever turn anyone away. We take health insurance and we have a sliding fee scale. We also have people within our integrated care network that will assist individuals with obtaining insurance,” Wegner said.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “The presence of two or more disorders can complicate diagnosis and treatment. Integrating both screening and treatment for mental and substance use disorders leads to a better quality of care and health outcomes for those living with co-occurring disorders by treating the whole person.”
Wenger explained that GVHC’s approach to health is patient-centered and that treatment plans are tailored to a client’s particular goals.
“We establish treatment plans based on what the client wants to accomplish and what their life will look like when they complete treatment,” Wegner said. “Our practices are really based on the research of harm reduction which means that we focus on increasing their functioning and reducing the harm that the disorder is causing them.”
Greater Valley Health Center Behavioral Health also provides individual and group therapy, care management, and the availability of Medication for Opioid Use Disorders (MOUD) through the health center’s medical clinic. MOUD is the use of medications tailored to each patient’s needs in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies to provide a comprehensive approach to the treatment of substance use disorders.
The care team includes Ann McWilliams, licensed addiction counselor/licensed clinical professional counselor; Angela Otto, license addiction counselor; Program Supervisor Jochen Russig, licensed clinical social worker; and Madeline Brown and Sara Williams, integrated care managers.
“We really do have a team that is passionate and caring which really helps with client care and helps us connect with people,” Wegner said.
Greater Valley Health Center’s Behavioral Health program recently moved to 431 1st Avenue West in Kalispell to accommodate the new providers and planned growth. For information and appointments call 406-607-4900 or visit their website at greatervalleyhealth.org.
Reporter Summer Zalesky may be reached at [email protected].