Health Clinic: Integrating Behavioral and Physical Health Care

The IMAN Health Clinic has always strived to deliver healthcare that is culturally sensitive, holistic and integrated. With the recent addition of Francisco Lozornio, LCSW, as a Behavioral Health specialist, the Clinic has taken a major step toward further concretizing this integrated health care model.  We sat down with Francisco recently to ask him about the importance of behavioral health care in general and for our patient community in particular.

Urban Edge: Why is the IMAN Health Clinic moving towards an integration of behavioral and physical health care?

Lozornio: The IMAN Health Clinic staff clearly understands that we all need to take care of both our physical and our behavioral health needs. The mind and the body cannot be separated; symptoms and illness in one impacts the health of the other. Both physical and behavioral health benefits from prevention efforts, screening tests, routine check-ups, and treatment. Many people have both physical and behavioral health illnesses.

Integration of behavioral and physical health care refers to the intentional, ongoing, and committed coordination and collaboration between all providers treating the individual. Providers recognize and appreciate the interdependence they have with each other to positively impact healthcare outcomes. Ideally, a designated team of behavioral and physical healthcare providers develop a common treatment plan that identifies and addresses both physical health and behavioral health care needs.

Urban Edge: We hear that “Co-occurring Disorders” are a critical part of this integrated model of health care delivery.  What are Co-occurring Disorders?

Lozornio: People who have substance use disorders as well as mental health disorders are diagnosed as having co-occurring disorders, or dual disorders. This is also sometimes called a dual diagnosis.

In the past, mental health disorders and addiction problems were often treated separately, we now know that co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders impact one another and must be treated together. Treating just one disorder will not cause the other to automatically improve. And separate, parallel care for the disorders does not result in one, effective treatment plan. To be effective, both disorders must be treated at the same time, in the same place, by the same treatment team. This is called integrated treatment.

The IMAN Behavioral Health program is taking steps towards an integrated healthcare model approach. A large number of patients currently being treated at the Clinic have co-occurring disorders.

The Clinic also treats a high volume of patients that have severe mental health disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Acute Stress Disorder, Major Depression, and Anxiety caused by violence.

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