Spindletop Center (formerly Spindletop Mental Health, Mental Retardation) is poised to take yet another step into expanding the scope of its treatment to help its clients achieve better health, both mental and physical.

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 14, Ken Janda, President and CEO of Community Health Choice, will present Spindletop Center’s Chief Behavioral Health Officer Betty Reynolds with a check for $250,000 to open a Primary Healthcare Clinic on Spindletop’s South Campus in Beaumont. Janda will present the check in a ceremony before Spindletop management, who represent nearly 400 Center employees and the 7000 people they serve each year. The clinic will address the healthcare needs of Spindletop clients who not only have mental health or substance abuse issues, but who also need medical help for the myriad of physical conditions that many Americans face.

Community Health Choice is a non-profit Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) licensed by the Texas

Department of Insurance. Through its network of more than 5,000 doctors and 50 hospitals, CHC serves over 220,000 Members. CHC offers disease management programs for asthma, diabetes, high-risk pregnancy and weight management.

Spindletop Center (formerly MHMR) is one of 39 community health centers in Texas that help people with mental illness, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse issues and childhood developmental delays.

In 2009, the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that adults with serious mental illness experience heightened levels of disease and mortality. This is due in large part to the existence in this population of an elevated prevalence of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol and the high percentage of people with MH issues who smoke cigarettes. These factors can also be attributed to lack of access by this population to basic primary health care screening and services. Persons with serious mental illness experience additional challenges to accessing basic health services and are disproportionally impacted by chronic health conditions that are not necessarily related to their mental health.

“We help people with their mental illness issues and with substance abuse problems,” said Reynolds, “but people with those conditions also have the same health concerns as anyone else. They have diabetes or other problems, and because of transportation issues, sometimes those conditions don’t get addressed. We can refer them to a qualified health clinic, but that is often in Port Arthur, and they simply can’t get transportation down there. They end up not showing up to appointments with a doctor who is trying to address their physical concerns.”

People with severe mental illness often have greater difficulty in arranging transportation to doctors’ appointments, which results in a “no-show” rate that is higher than the general population. The Spindletop clinic is designed to target this population by providing better access to physical healthcare screening and services that emphasize “whole person” care by integrating the person’s mental health care with physical health care services within the same outpatient facility.

In other words, a Spindletop client would not only access the services of a psychiatrist and Spindletop’s on-site pharmacy, but also a doctor who would assess his physical condition and make recommendations for treatment and medication—all in a “one-stop shop.” These services, coupled with Spindletop’s community-based social services (including help with access to housing and employment), greatly increase the chance that a client will have a better health outcome.

“We have been working hard to be innovative in our treatment,” said Sally Broussard, chief authority officer for Spindletop. “We are pioneering efforts to build affordable housing for our clients and offering peer-to-peer support groups. Now, by expanding our role to focus more on our clients’ physical health, we are moving even further into a well-rounded, ‘whole person’ approach to helping people.”

Reynolds said, “When people are sick physically, it makes it difficult for them to recover mentally. We are so pleased that CHC has agreed to partner with us on this clinic.”

For more information about Spindletop Center services, call 409-784-5400 or log onto www.stmhmr.org or www.spindletopcenter.org . For mental health crisis services, call 800-937-8097. The service is available 24 hours a day, seven days per week. Spindletop Center serves people in Jefferson, Hardin, Orange and Chambers counties. For more information about Community Health Choice, log onto www.CHCHealth.org.