The United Health Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), has established a three-year, $3.3 million grant partnership with the North Olympic Healthcare Network (NOHN), a federally qualified health center (community health center) serving Clallam County. NOHN will help to improve access to care with the goal of improving behavioral health for children and adults in the Port Angeles area. Washington’s rural counties have disproportionately fewer health care resources than larger, urban counties, according to a 2021 Washington State Primary Care Needs Assessment.
According to America’s Health Rankings 2020 Health of Women and Children Report, the teen suicide rate in Washington and nationwide has increased by nearly 25% since the 2017 report. The state also ranks 43rd for youth anxiety, 44th for youth alcohol use and 46th for illicit drug use by youths, with studies showing national behavioral and mental health challenges have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
“Mental health has been an increasing concern for adults and children in Washington, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the issue,” said Sue Birch, Washington Health Care Authority director. “Through this partnership, members of the Port Angeles community will have better access to the care and resources they need.”
NOHN will provide behavioral health and primary care services to 1,000 students in grades K-12 via a mobile medical unit, and offer behavioral health education to students and their parents. The partnership will also enable NOHN to expand the Port Angeles Community Paramedicine program to support individuals who frequently utilize the local emergency department (ED) for nonemergency behavioral health or substance misuse issues, and connect them to more personalized health resources.
“We know how important it is to be able to access care when needs arise for children and adults,” said Dr. Alka Atal-Barrio, chief medical officer of The Everett Clinic/Optum, a UnitedHealth Group company. “UnitedHealth Group is committed to helping ensure every person has access to high-quality, affordable health care that meets their unique needs as we help build a modern, high-performing health system that works better for everyone.”
UnitedHealth Group is committed to expanding access to care, improving health care affordability, enhancing the health care experience and achieving better health outcomes. Partnering with key stakeholders, the company works to advance health equity, build healthier communities and support ongoing response efforts to COVID-19. Since 2019, UnitedHealth Group has invested over $36 million in strategic partnerships with nonprofit organizations and other community partners to improve behavioral health. Specifically, this partnership will proactively help individuals access the behavioral and medical resources they need, prevent over 400 avoidable visits to the ED and, most importantly, improve health outcomes. Additionally, the partnership is expected to drive a tenfold increase in the number of students accessing behavioral health services, and reduce the stigma about behavioral health among children and families.
“We are excited by this opportunity to leverage community collaborations and innovative mobile delivery models to bring much needed behavioral and primary care services to those in greatest need, wherever they are,” said Dr. Michael Maxwell, CEO of the North Olympic Healthcare Network. “This impactful grant funding and partnership with the United Health Foundation will help us address critical behavioral health needs in our students earlier and with fewer barriers, while also supporting community outreach to adults who are struggling with behavioral and chronic medical conditions.”
About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at www.unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.