Our Aspire Indiana FQHC Story

Our story began in 2003 when the Center for Mental Health was the first Community Mental Health Center in the United States to be awarded a HRSA integration grant…. But a lot has changed since 2003. First and foremost is our understanding of how powerful and beneficial integrated care can be for our consumers. Second, is the increased energy that others such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA),  and even the state of Indiana are putting into this goal of creating integrated care entities.

An Integrated Care Entity, also known as ICE, is a model being promoted by the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) and the Indiana Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA). The model emphasizes coordination of care between primary care and behavioral health care to the point that both are provided through a concept called “No Wrong Door”.

The “No Wrong Door” philosophy emphasizes the importance of the person receiving the right services at the right time… regardless of which door they enter (e.g., Primary Care, Housing, Employment, Behavioral Health, etc).

Some of you may be wondering what this goal means for Aspire? It means that Aspire will undergo a transformation and as part of that transformation Aspire will grow. Aspire will grow in the number of staff employed, the scope of our mission, and the number of clients served annually. Historically Aspire has been a behavioral health care provider. That will not change. What will change is the number of staff that also focus on primary health care. Specifically, we will increase the number of staff who use curriculums developed for bidirectional primary and behavioral health integrated practices. Bidirectional basically means that both resources and information flows in whatever direction is best for the client. To operationalize this concept we will need to increase the number of staff that are trained in the concepts of wellness and behavioral health recovery.

Fortunately for Aspire this transformation was not unexpected. Behind the scenes our leadership team has been hard at work, preparing our organization for the change we knew was needed, and coming, even all the way back in 2003. Now the transformation Aspire sought is underway. In July of 2015, we opened our first Health Center location on the corner of 19th Street and Broadway in Anderson. Nine months later we have health center locations in Anderson, Elwood, Carmel and Washington Township in Marion County. We should easily pass 1,000 unduplicated patients this year with anticipation of more than 3,000 next year.

As we pursue Our Vision, “to be a recognized leader in healthcare transformation, and an employer of choice: redefining excellence and innovation in our communities”, we know that becoming an Integrated Care Entity is an essential part, because integrated care is best care. So from now on, if someone asks you, “What is Aspire?” the answer should be, “we are an integrated health system that provides primary care and behavioral health services as well as addresses the social determinants of health, such as housing and employment.”  We are still a community mental health center, but we are also so much more!

Jerry_LandersAbout the Author: Jerry Landers is the Executive Director of Aspire Indiana Health. Your can follow him on Twitter @JerryELanders. Learn more about Aspire on their website, or on Facebook.

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