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Health organizations get grant funding to bolster mental health and addiction recovery care

Times-Tribune - 8/14/2019

Aug. 14--More federal funding for substance use disorders and mental health mean two organizations in Northeast Pennsylvania can bolster programs.

Scranton Primary Health Care Center and Wayne Memorial Community Health Care Centers each received $167,000 in supplemental allocations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services'Health Resources and Services Administration agency.

The funding, which is ongoing, supplements a grant awarded last year to expand access to mental health services and substance use disorder care, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-17, Moosic, announced this week.

Cartwright, a member of the House appropriations committee, said he's committed to making sure organizations such as Wayne Memorial and Scranton Primary have the funding they need.

The supplemental allocation means Scranton Primary, a Federally Qualified Health Center that serves poor and otherwise vulnerable populations, can add a second behavioral health counselor to its fledgling mental health program.

The Wyoming Avenue center recently added mental health to its repertoire that includes dental, internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology and family medicine.

Having clinical social workers in the building as family doctors helps beat back a stigma that mental health is any different from the rest of the body and helps providers better monitor their patients' progress, said Chief Executive Officer Joseph Hollander.

"It brings a lot of benefits. We no longer have to refer people out and hope that they make their appointments," he said.

The grant's first iteration helped Scranton Primary kick off behavioral health last year with one licensed clinical social worker.

Wayne Memorial has used the money to add five behavioral health experts including a psychiatrist who specializes in addictive medicine, Dr. Tuhin Gupta, and a psychiatric nurse practitioner, Wayne Memorial Community Health Centers Director Frederick Jackson said in a statement.

Without the grant program and Cartwright's help to secure the funding, "the development of these and other medical, dental and behavioral health services essential to Wayne, Pike and upper Lackawanna counties would not be possible," he said.

Contact the writer:

joconnell@timesshamrock.com

570-348-9131; @jon_oc

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