Greater New Bedford Community Health Center

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State Recognizes GNBCHC's Efforts to Integrate Behavioral Health and Primary Care

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Greater New Bedford Community Health Center
Contact: Monica Santos, monicas@gnbchc.org, 508-984-8401 ext.330

The Greater New Bedford Community Health Center (GNBCHC) in New Bedford and Wareham have been officially designated a Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) PRIME Certified. According to the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission (HPC), this achievement recognizes GNBCHC's ongoing dedication to providing high quality integrated primary and behavioral health care to its 24,000 patients.

HPC, in collaboration with the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA,) developed the PCMH PRIME Certification program, which identifies criteria that are key to integrating behavioral health care into primary care and certifies practices that meet a majority of these criteria. Practices meet PCMH PRIME criteria by demonstrating capabilities in behavioral health integration; conducting comprehensive health assessments that include screenings for behavioral health conditions, such as depression, post-partum depression, anxiety, developmental delays and substance use disorder; identifying high-risk patients for targeted care management; tracking referrals and follow-up on referrals to specialists, including behavioral healthcare providers; using evidence-based guidelines to make decisions about support for mental health and substance use disorders; and utilizing medication-assisted treatment for addiction.

According to the HPC, because behavioral health issues can often first be identified in a primary care setting, there is growing consensus that behavioral health should be integrated into primary care. Behavioral health conditions (mental illnesses and substance use disorders) can be exacerbated by delayed diagnosis and treatment, which is a serious public health problem nationally and across Massachusetts.

"This designation is an achievement shared by our entire clinical staff and an acknowledgement of their unwavering dedication to our patients at the Wareham and New Bedford health centers," said GNBCHC CEO Cheryl Bartlett. "This milestone is a reflection of our steadfast commitment to the communities we serve and the patients who depend upon us to deliver the highest quality healthcare."

"The under-diagnosis of behavioral health conditions is a serious public health problem, nationally and across the Commonwealth," said Health Policy Commission Executive Director David Seltz. "The HPC's PCMH PRIME program recognizes patient centered practices like Greater New Bedford Community Health Center that are aiming to tackle that issue and help identify behavioral health conditions early and before emergencies arise."

Both the Wareham and New Bedford health centers have also received the prestigious Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Level III Recognition from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), a national honor awarded health care organizations that use evidence-based, patient-centered processes that focus on highly coordinated patient care.

To earn this recognition, GNBCHC's Wareham and New Bedford health centers successfully demonstrated its ability to meet the rigorous NCQA standards, which align with the joint principles of the Patient-Centered Medical Home established with the American College of Physicians, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Osteopathic Association.

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