CEDAR RAPIDS — After years of an informal partnership, AbbeHealth and UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids have made it official.
The two Cedar Rapids health care organizations have signed an affiliation agreement that officials say will allow them to provide more coordinated medical, behavioral health and aging services.
AbbeHealth will be an affiliate of UnityPoint Health — Cedar Rapids starting Jan. 1.
“We’ve worked with Abbe for years and years,” said Ted Townsend, president and chief executive officer of UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids.
Townsend said over the years he’s spoken with AbbeHealth’s President Dan Strellner about coming together, especially as the health care industry has evolved to focus more on care coordination, cost control and population health management.
AbbeHealth, a regional non-profit organization that provides mental health and aging services to more than 17,000 people each year, will continue to provide community-based services. All programs, services and care will continue to be offered to clients of AbbeHealth regardless of where individuals receive medical health care services currently or in the future.
The organization will be continue to maintain partnerships with independent health care providers and patients can continue to see their physicians.
“Both of our organizations recognize the coordination of medical, behavioral health and aging services for our communities is a continued and growing need,” Townsend said. “The future of health care is about focusing on the whole person, integrating services that have become so fragmented and specialized that we lose the opportunity to see the full picture.”
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A large portion of individuals with a serious mental illness also have chronic health problems that often go untreated due to a variety of barriers — including homelessness and no transportation — and lack of support systems.
Nationwide more than 60 percent of Medicaid members who suffer from a serious mental illness also have more than three other chronic health conditions. This can result in an average life span that is shortened by 25 years or more.
“By working together more closely, we believe that we can strengthen the services we provide and improve health care in the communities we serve,” AbbeHealth’s Strellner said. “The integration of medical, mental health and aging services allows us to place our focus on the whole person.”
Strellner said he believes the new affiliation will help the patients discharged from St. Luke’s inpatient behavioral health unit have better access to community-based services as well as a more coordinated discharge plan to prevent future admissions. In addition, Abbe will have access to UnityPoint’s health outcome measures, capitated rate system and data collection.
“Consumers and patients will have better access and a more integrated service system,” he said.