Healthcare providers in Laramie say they’re seeing an increase in addiction. In response, the Albany Community Health Clinic -- which serves patients regardless of their ability to pay -- is adding mental health and substance abuse services to the comprehensive primary-care it offers. With a grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, the clinic is now able to hire additional mental health providers.
Dr. Katy Hartman, who works at the clinic, said the goal is to focus on the treatment, prevention and awareness of substance abuse and its integration into primary care.
“Nationwide and communitywide it’s known that there is an opioid epidemic. There is also quite a bit of other substance abuse problems. So basically the purpose is to have trainings and educate our providers, and to increase mental health and substance abuse services.”
Hartman said while Albany County is not struggling with addiction to the same extent as other communities across the country, adequately funding mental health and substance abuse services will help prevent the issue from getting worse.
Richelle Keinath, the clinic’s director, said mental health and physical health impact each other, so being able to treat mind and body under the same roof is ideal.
“We thought it was important to integrate mental health into primary care. That was a big motivator for us.” Keinath added, “There are more folks -- just having spoken to the sheriff earlier this week -- that have addictions that are in the detention center. And so that’s something that was new information for me in regards to the opioid addiction problem in town.”
Keinath said the grant is helping cover shortfalls in funding for mental health and substance abuse services. The clinic operates on a sliding fee scale for those between 100 and 200 percent of the poverty level, and is also open to insured individuals.