A new initiative sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has recruited Associate Professor Leopoldo J. Cabassa and Associate Research Scientist Ana Stefančić to evaluate the findings of a project that aims to improve the lives of homeless individuals who are experiencing mental and chronic health issues.

The project, called Integrated Healthcare + Housing (IH+H), is led by Dr. Lara Carson Weinstein from Thomas Jefferson University and involves a partnership among three Philadelphia-based organizations:

  • The Stephen Klein Wellness Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center;
  • Project H.O.M.E., a local agency dedicated to providing housing, medical care, education, and income for Philadelphia’s homeless; and
  • Pathways to Housing PA, which has a unique and successful model of merging healthcare with housing and a myriad of other support services.

With the new SAMHSA funding, Dr. Weinstein will expand the available medical services to five days a week and increase the number of health service specialists available, so as to eliminate unnecessary (and costly) emergency room visits and hospital stays for clients. After four years, the goal is to serve up to 350 clients.

While Dr. Weinstein oversees the implementation of all IH+H services, Drs. Cabassa and Stefančić will lead efforts to evaluate this service transformation effort, using administrative data from primary care providers and health information collected from clients.

“This new grant is a great example of a community-academic partnership dedicated to improving the delivery of health services and the health of minorities with serious mental illness,” said Dr. Cabassa.

As part of an ongoing NIMH grant, IH+H will also support Dr. Cabassa and Dr. Stefančić in evaluating their peer-led healthy lifestyle intervention model—which tests the theory that peer specialists can be effective service providers for those experiencing mental health and substance abuse issues because of the shared lived experience between peer provider and client.

Photo credit: What Keeps Me Here, by Justin Wolfe via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Related link:

With New NIMH Grant, Cabassa and Stefančić Delve into Role of Peer Specialists in Delivering Health Interventions

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