Training and Support Services to Organizations Awarded a Nicholson Grant to Integrate Primary and Behavioral Health Care

Cherokee Health Systems
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Primary Care
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Cherokee Health Systems (Cherokee) is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) and state-approved Community Mental Health Center that operates 23 “brick and mortar” clinics and 23 telemedicine health clinics in Knoxville, Tennessee, and surrounding counties in East Tennessee, Chattanooga, and Memphis. Cherokee is the largest FQHC in the state and serves more than 60,000 patients a year. It uses a multi-disciplinary, integrated team model of care consisting of primary care providers, psychologists and clinical social workers, behavioral health consultants, psychiatric providers, dentists, and community health coordinators. Cherokee also is a national leader in integrating behavioral health services and primary care, through its model, which embeds behavioral health specialists within primary care teams. 

This project builds upon previous grants in which Cherokee provided technical assistance to two FQHCs—the Henry J. Austin Health Center and the Center for Health Education Medicine and Dentistry (CHEMED)—in a pilot project and then to six primary care clinics and practices that serve a high percentage of Medicaid patients. These six sites are AtlantiCare, Eric B. Chandler Health Center, Jefferson Health, Metropolitan Family Health Network, Hackensack Meridian Health, and Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey. Cherokee provided intensive hands-on training, support, and clinical supervision to each of the organizations to help them operationalize the Cherokee model of integrating behavioral healthcare into primary care.

In this project, Cherokee is continuing its technical assistance to the six sites by helping them improve their clinical skills and work toward financial sustainability. Cherokee also is providing similar technical assistance to four new clinics that have joined this initiative. In a third aspect of this project, Cherokee is helping New Jersey institutionalize expertise in integrated care. It is doing this by training clinical psychologists from Rutgers’ University Behavioral Health Care (UBHC) in how to train local healthcare providers in the Cherokee model. Cherokee also is advising UBHC as it works with University leadership across eight departments to revise their educational and clinical practice infrastructure to integrate behavioral health into all phases of healthcare clinical training. 

Learn more about Cherokee Health Systems.