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Saving Millions, Improving Lives: San Antonio’s Center for Health Care Services

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Susan Partain

Manager, Communication Projects, National Council for Behavioral Health

Saving Millions, Improving Lives: San Antonio’s Center for Health Care Services

November 13, 2014 | Uncategorized | Comments
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This post is the third in a series profiling National Council member organizations who have been recognized for practice innovations in our quickly shifting health care environment. The first two posts featured Vinfen and MHA Village. An upcoming post will feature Henderson Behavioral Health.

With an incarceration rate of 1 in nearly 100 adults, it’s no surprise that America’s prisons and jails face serious overcrowding. And far too often, jails and prisons have become a place where people with mental illnesses are housed and treated—at a high rate of recidivism and great expense to state and local governments.

The Center for Health Care Services (CHCS) in San Antonio has a different approach to help its overflowing jails, provide critical mental health services to people in need, and save the city serious money—to the tune of $50 million over the past five years. As the seventh-largest city in the United States, San Antonio and the surrounding Bexar County face the same complex challenges most big cities do—doing more with less.

In a recent interview with NPR, Leon Evans, the president and CEO of the Center for Health Care Services, talked about how he brought jails, police, courts, hospitals, and the local government together to talk about how they were addressing mental health and what they were spending.  After closely examining how resources were being utilized, these stakeholders realized that coming together with an integrated approach to caring for mental illness could not only save the city money, but would also support people in getting the right care in the right setting.

Their approach was recognized by Connect 4 Mental Health for advancing service integration to improve the care of individuals with serious mental illness.

Out of that meeting, CHCS developed their Restoration Center, which provides housing and treatment services for people with mental illness and addictions.  In addition, according to an interview with Kaiser Health News, because the Restoration Center was built with input from the police department, police can easily and quickly drop off people at the center as needed, helping officers spend more time on the streets and saving the police department at least $600,000 a year in overtime pay.

Today, the Restoration Center uses its integrated approach to care to serve more than 18,000 people each year, keeping countless thousands out of jail and in society. According to the NPR interview, providers from across the nation have visited CHCS to see firsthand how this unique integrated care model works, and to better understand how they might make such a model work in their own city.

Read more about the Center for Health Care Services, and the story of Aston Jones, on NAMI’s blog.

In this next phase of Connect 4 Mental Health, the Center for Health Care Services will mentor another community looking to accomplish similar successes. Learn more at http://connect4mentalhealth.com/.

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