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Solvista CEO Brian Turner, right, visits with staff at the Regional Assessment Center in Salida. Dan Smith photo

Solvista Health continues to ramp up hiring and services at the Regional Assessment Center on the Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center campus, and a large federal grant will now help shape additional programs for the community.

Solvista was awarded a four-year grant of just under four million dollars by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration to develop a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) model – a push to create clearly defined national standard of excellence.

Solvista CEO Brian Turner said it’s designed to ensure access to high quality, coordinated, and comprehensive behavioral health care. CCBHCs are required to serve anyone who requests mental health care or substance use treatment, regardless of ability to pay, place of residence, or age – including developmentally appropriate care for children and youth.

In 2016, HHS selected eight states to participate in the initial demonstration program that saw a handful of provider organizations reach Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) status. Since then, after strong outcomes were substantiated through data, the program has been extended and expanded to more than 500 service locations managed by over 350 provider organizations across 24 states.

“It really does represent, I think, the future of community mental health, so we’re excited to be on the forefront of it,” Turner commented.

Community input is important, he stressed.

“This model ensures that there’s client and community voice in the services and in the programs that we deliver. The case has also been made that this would be a more financially responsible way to build a behavioral health system in the United States, because it’s paying for value, it’s paying for things that are proven to work. By doing so, were also helping to offset things that happen when we don’t have a strong mental and behavioral health system – like expenses in emergency rooms, hospitals, and the criminal justice system…

Those arguments carried the day when the law was passed in 2014, he points out, and it started small, in just a handful of states, and since it has shown a lot of promise as far as expanding access to care, having good outcomes for the community.

The grant is the largest Solvista has ever received, and they were selected along with five other Colorado providers including Denver Health, Summit Stone Health in Larimer County, Aurora Mental Health and Recovery, and North Range Behavioral Health in Weld County.

Colorado would need to formally adopt and become CCBHC state, and the legislature is working on that.

“If they can do that, then we’ll be able to transition from these grants to sustainability under the CCBHC model,”Turner added.

“We are underway. We’ve been hiring staff, including a behavioral health equity manager, and we’re hiring now for a veterans service liaison. We’re also hiring additional care navigators to particularly support our work with youth and the Latino population. The latter is particularly important for our work in Lake County.”

The grant resources will be used to better serve all four service counties where Solvista operates, Chaffee, Fremont, Custer and Lake, which has the highest Latino population.

Among the goals is better partnering with veterans groups and the Veterans Administration. Turner is also proud of the effort directed toward better serving young people.

“We did an extensive needs assessment and planning effort, evaluating extensive data and conducting focus groups in all our communities to make sure know that the strategies we will take are directly informed by what the community needs,” Turner stated.

“We just know that kids across the country and certainly we see it in the data for the four counties that we serve; the demand for care is up, the needs, like the complexity and acuity of mental health needs with our kids has only been increasing, so we really needed to figure out a strategy to have more resources and a deeper bench of people who could be in the community, responding, getting creative in how we work with youth, how we work with Boys and Girls Clubs and other youth serving organizations and helping us better engage a population that has increased needs over the last several years,” he added.