UMFS Partners on a New Health Initiative

The way children’s healthcare is administered and accessed is about to be revolutionized — and UMFS is at the forefront. In partnership with Bon Secours Medical Group, our new initiative serves at-risk children in underserved areas of Richmond, combining behavioral health and primary care services for a more holistic approach to care.

Nearly six million children annually are reported to child welfare agencies for suspected maltreatment, such as physical, sexual and emotional abuse, loss of a parent and/or unstable environments. Researchers concluded that at least 50% of these children have clinically significant emotional or behavioral problems. Many kids reach the healthcare system only when disease has advanced or physical injury is apparent. Data show these children are much more likely to end up as adults in the corrections system or as parents who abuse their children, continuing a vicious cycle.

As of October 2014, UMFS clinicians will officially be embedded into Bon Secours medical practices. The program will be piloted at two locations (the Bon Secours Laburnum Medical Office and Richmond Community Hospital) to determine if the model can be taken full-scale into all UMFS and Bon Secours locations across the state in the future. This innovative approach will treat the early stages of both physical and mental illnesses and provide support through screenings and assessments; health and wellness programs; parent support, advocacy and education; outpatient therapeutic and psychiatric services; and access to transportation.

The uniqueness of this model is the makeup of the intervention team: community members and parents will be hired to work together with medical and behavioral health professionals. Parent support partners will guide and support families in similar circumstances.

With easier access and a better understanding of the complicated healthcare system, parents are empowered to be in charge of their children’s outcomes, allowing kids the chance to stay in their homes instead of ending up in institutional care.