Aurora Health Care today announced a $250,000 contribution to Kenosha County organizations to help expand access to behavioral health care in the county. Tele-psychiatry services will be made available through a collaborative effort between the Kenosha County Department of Human Services and Kenosha Human Development Services.
“Access to behavioral health is a critical component of overall health care, and Aurora Health Care is committed to helping meet the unmet needs of Kenosha County residents,” said Doug Koch, president of the Racine, Kenosha and Northern Illinois service area. “We are excited to support organizations that wish to work in creative partnership to solve health care issues. We fully expect this community effort will enhance patient care and, ultimately, help people live well.”
An Aurora Health Care Better Together Fund grant will pay for the start-up costs associated with the implementation of the new telemedicine program, including personnel, equipment, licensing fees and contractual costs. Once startup is complete, services will be funded through insurance reimbursement and other contracted arrangements. The new services will be available to adults and children residing in Kenosha and those referred by the Kenosha Community Health Center.
“We are very excited to learn that we will receive a $250,000 grant from the Aurora Health Care Better Together Fund to expand behavioral health services through tele-psychiatry,” said Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser. “In 2015, Kenosha County commissioned a study of its behavioral health service needs and resources, which underscored the shortage of psychiatrists in our community. With this grant, we expect about 1,000 additional patients will be served at Kenosha Human Development Services’ mental health clinic where the tele-psychiatry services will be located.”
According to 2015 Kenosha County Health Rankings, the county has an insufficient pool of psychiatric practitioners, with one provider for 1,075 people, and even fewer providers who accept Medicaid. Additionally, a 2015 Kenosha County Mental Health Study revealed all local providers have had difficulty recruiting psychiatric practitioners. Kenosha Human Development Services further estimated 950 callers for psychiatric appointments were turned away in 2015, and tallied a 25 percent increase in adult and juvenile behavioral health crisis contacts over the previous year.
Expanding access to behavioral health services is a priority for the Aurora Health Care Better Together Fund. In the past two years, the fund has provided $15 million in cash and in-kind contributions to more than 50 community organizations, colleges and universities throughout eastern Wisconsin. Beyond behavioral health, the funds are helping improve access to primary care and sexual assault and domestic violence prevention services.