Monday, October 15, 2018

Mankato Clinic has implemented behavioral health services in Family Medicine at Main Street and Wickersham Health Campus along with the Children’s Health Center. A behavioral health consultant works closely with primary care providers to help their patients cope with a chronic condition, make lifestyle changes and address emotional and behavioral issues.  

A behavioral health consultant is a clinical social worker or psychologist. By integrating behavioral health services with primary care, providers can reach patients early, offer short-term solutions and address conditions before they progress.

“The integrated model of care allows me to help patients when they are asking for it instead of waiting for a referral to set up an appointment in the future. Patients can start to improve their coping and functioning right away. This model also makes it easier for us as care providers to work as a team, which hopefully gives our patients the best possible experience and outcomes,” said Kimberly Haala, psychologist, Ph.D.

When a primary care provider recommends that a patient meet with a behavioral health consultant, Mankato Clinic makes every attempt to provide a same-day appointment, often directly following the primary care appointment. At the most, it can take one to three days to schedule the first appointment.

The first appointment is 20-30 minutes long, which allows the behavioral health consultant to better understand the patient’s concerns and develop solutions. Patients typically have one to three visits.

“The integrated behavioral health model has provided satisfaction for patients, primary care providers and myself. I enjoy working alongside providers and enhancing patient care. It’s very rewarding to see patients’ symptoms improve relatively quickly because they are able to access interventions in a timely manner,” said Crystal Dubbelde, MSW, licensed independent clinical social worker.  

Dubbelde and Haala can help patients cope with a new diagnosis; reduce symptoms of chronic conditions such as headaches, diabetes, asthma and COPD; develop plans to change behaviors, stop smoking, lose weight or decrease alcohol use; and address life events, parenting, stress, anxiety or anger.

“Our providers know they can reach out to Kimberly Haala or Crystal Dubbelde and our patients will get the care they need, often that same day,” Chief Medical Officer Andrew Lundquist, DPM, said.