Johnson County Mental Health Center to add chronic care and health integration staff

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The Johnson County Mental Health Center will bring on six new full-time employees to address primary and chronic care needs.

Driving the news: The Johnson County Board of County Commissioners on Sept. 15 authorized the center to add the six new positions.

  • The board also approved the use of $165,000 in county reserve funds to fund the new positions.

New additions: The six new employees will work with the Johnson County Mental Health Center’s chronic care clinic and health integration team.

  • This includes a health navigator, one registered nurse on the health integration team, two registered nurses on a primary health team, a nurse aid and an administrative support worker at the front desk.

What will they do? The health navigator will help individuals obtain healthcare insurance and determine which benefits they might be eligible for, as well as making referrals to community providers.

  • The registered nurse positions on the primary health team include assisting primary health providers through tasks like preparing paperwork, assessing vital signs and educating clients.
  • The registered nurse position on the health integration team will coordinate services for patients enrolled in the OneCare Kansas program who are experiencing severe mental or chronic physical health conditions.
  • The administrative support worker will greet clients and coordinate appointment scheduling.

Bigger picture: These positions will serve as part of the department’s Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic certification — which launched in 2017 as a way for nationwide clinics to expand primary and chronic care services.

  • Clinics with this type of certification are designed to address a range of mental health issues.
  • Some of them include suicide prevention, inadequate care for veterans and overburdened emergency departments.
  • In reviewing existing client data, the department staff estimated these additions to the primary care clinic will impact roughly 900 patients who lack a primary care doctor as indicated in their chart.

What they’re saying: “We’re looking at individuals that would come to us that probably haven’t been to a primary care provider in years,” said Tanner Fortney, director of operations for the Johnson County Mental Health Center. “When they’re coming in, we’ll be able to check their vitals, we’ll be able to screen them and we can refer them over if they don’t have (a primary care provider).”

About the author

Leah Wankum
Leah Wankum

Hi there! I’m Leah Wankum, and I’m the Post’s Deputy Editor. I’m thrilled to call Johnson County home, and I’m deeply committed to the Post’s philosophy that an informed community is a strong community.

I’m a native of mid-Missouri, and attended high school in Jefferson City before going on to the University of Central Missouri, where I earned a master’s degree in mass communication.

Prior to joining the Post as a reporter in 2018, I was the editor of the Richmond News in Ray County, Missouri. I’ve also written for several publications, including the Sedalia Democrat and KC Magazine.