Thrive by IU Health

September 28, 2020

Grant Connects People in Rural Communities to Emergency Behavioral Care

Grant Connects People in Rural Communities to Emergency Behavioral Care

Thanks to a new grant secured by IU Health Foundation, people in rural communities in need of 24/7 emergency behavioral health services will now benefit from an expansion of virtual care services—even people who are not being seen in IU Health hospitals.

The $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Telehealth Network Grant program will allow IU Health to reach additional rural areas with its 24-hour services for people experiencing behavioral health crises. Operating from a virtual hub in downtown Indianapolis, the service takes calls from emergency room nurses to connect patients in crisis with care team members, including peer recovery coaches, for video-chat consultations.

Launched in 2019, the program has provided about 4,300 behavioral health consults and 2,200 substance use disorder consults to people in 14 counties served by IU Health. With the new federal grant, the program will expand to provide care to patients in four additional counties – Franklin, Henry, Ripley and Rush – through three hospitals: Henry Community Health in New Castle, Margaret Mary Health in Batesville, and Rush Memorial Hospital in Rushville.

The program can be a vital lifeline for people experiencing behavioral health crises. “The most common problem is crisis psychiatry, with over a third of patients with suicidal ideation or an attempt,” said Anne Gilbert, MD, medical director of Behavioral Health Virtual Services. “Other common conditions include substance abuse, depression, anxiety and psychosis.”

In conjunction with an emergency consultation, care providers assess the patient’s condition and needs, and help him or her connect with a safety plan, necessary treatment and follow-up care.

The service is particularly important for rural areas, where adequate behavioral health services often are not available, and certainly not on the 24-hour/365-days-a-year emergency basis. Seeking to meet the growing need for such services in rural areas, HHS awarded a total of $8.8 million to 30 organizations in 23 states through the Telehealth Network Grant program.

“This grant supports IU Health’s goal of improving the health of all Hoosiers, not only those served by IU Health facilities,” said IU Health Foundation President Crystal Miller. “It’s exciting to see IU Health’s experience and capacity working for the good of people all across the state.”

For more information on how philanthropy is working to make all Hoosiers healthier, visit IU Health Foundation.

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