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Saint Joseph's Medical Center in Yonkers reduces health disparities for mental health patients

Life expectancy and health outcomes for seriously mental ill patients are typically poorer, mainly due to high rates of poorly controlled chronic diseases and low rates of preventive care use. In 2017, Saint Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers established a family medicine residency program to provide essential primary and preventive care services to its seriously mentally ill patients.

To accomplish this, the facility established a biweekly primary care clinic on the inpatient mental health unit. The program was designed to integrate primary care clinical experience into the therapeutic program and improve the education of family medicine residents on health disparities. Mental health staff can now request primary care appointments and residents’ exposure to seriously mentally ill patients has increased their confidence in working with this population, while providing an appreciation for their struggle to maintain health habits.

Over a one-year period, the clinic recorded a total of 93 visits with 30 different patients for acute and chronic medical problems. The culture of the unit became more oriented to making coordinated, primary care appointments where possible. Additionally, the repetition of seeing a doctor prepared patients for scheduled appointments and reinforced their personal responsibility for their healthcare.

For more information, contact Lisa Hanrahan, DNP, CPHQ, CPHRM, vice president, quality and risk management, at (914) 378-7514 or lhanrahan@saintjosephs.org.