Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center today announced promising results from the first year of its innovative Get Well Stay Well. The program, which serves adults age 55 and older, will celebrate its one-year anniversary May 19.
"The outcomes of this project clearly demonstrate that the delivery of collaborative care by primary care and behavioral health providers working together in the same setting improves the well-being of patients," Memorial President and CEO Joseph A. Ruffolo said. "An independent evaluator of the Get Well Stay Well project has found that 60 percent of the project's patients treated for depression and 45 percent of patients treated for anxiety have achieved clinically significant improvements."
The Get Well Stay Well program provides behavioral health therapy and senior support services in an integrated primary care setting at Memorial's Summit Family Health Center, located at the Summit Healthplex on Williams Road in Wheatfield.
Improvements are measured by the percentage of patients with depression or anxiety who see their conditions decrease from either moderate to mild or from severe to moderate.
The progress of the Get Well Stay Well project, the first of its kind in Western New York, has been monitored by an independent evaluation team based at the University of Colorado. The project has received financial support from the New York State Office of Mental Health and the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York.
The report released by the University of Colorado tracked the status of 89 unique patients who recorded 394 behavioral health visits over the past year.
Memorial Chief Operating Officer Sheila Kee noted that, according to the study, it takes on average just five to six visits for a patient to see positive improvements in his or her clinical condition.
"The Get Well Stay Well Program is not just about numbers and percentages. It is about helping patients successfully deal with personal and family issues, grief and chronic pain," Kee said. "We have received numerous testimonials from our patients, indicating that receiving behavioral health therapy at the same place at which they receive primary care has improved their chronic conditions and has made them feel much better. Many patients have regained their independence and are now enjoying life."
Kee said the integration of behavioral health and primary care services will be spreading throughout Western New York with the advent of the delivery system reform incentive payment program, a statewide initiative to reform the Medicaid program and improve the quality of patient care. Niagara Falls Memorial, an active participant in the DSRIP program, is now planning to add behavioral health services at other primary care sites in its service network in Western Niagara County.