Groups celebrate three years of integrated health care

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BRIDGTON — Three years ago Tri-County Mental Health Services and its partners at Central Maine Healthcare’s Bridgton Hospital launched a project aimed at changing health care for people in the region. The innovative project was funded by the Maine Health Access Foundation and brought behavioral health providers into the doctor’s offices at Naples Family Practice, North Bridgton Family Practice, Fryeburg Family Medicine, Bridgton Pediatrics and Bridgton Internal Medicine. Since then, hundreds of people have experienced the benefits of more holistic and integrated treatment.

Community engagement and education were part of the project, with free monthly dinners focusing on different topics related to well-being. Everyone is invited to the final gathering on Tuesday, Jan. 22, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Bridgton Hospital. The event will review the successes of the project and look to the future as primary care integration will continue in the region.

Catherine R. Ryder, executive director of TCMHS and project lead for the Integrated Primary Care project, will speak about integration. She says it has broken down many barriers. “We know that good health encompasses the working of the body and the mind together, yet over the years the medical and mental health systems have become separated. With this project and others like it we’re bringing them back together with physical and mental health experts working on the whole patient,” she said.

The project has shown great results, including increased satisfaction for doctors in working with behavioral health professionals, increased sharing of information in real-time with a fully integrated electronic medical record, improved health for patients with complex needs, less waiting time for behavioral health assessment, greater patient satisfaction and reduced stigma.

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“Our collaboration with Tri-County has created a strong synergy between our primary care providers and the professionals offering this essential service to the Lakes Region. This type of collaboration is what makes us confident the community is receiving great care, close to home. We look forward to continuing this partnership into the future,” said Bridgton Hospital President David Frum.

To reserve a seat call Tami Kelley at 693-6106. Visit www.tcmhs.org for more information.

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