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An inventive approach is lowering health care costs in Casper

Central Wyoming Counseling Center and Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming are working together to reduce the cost of health care while improving patients’ overall quality of care in Natrona County.

Managing health care costs remains one of the most important and polarizing issues facing the nation today. This innovative partnership between Central Wyoming Counseling Center (Central) and Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming (CHCCW) is laying the foundation to decrease costs while simultaneously improving patient care. As the first phase of an ongoing and expanding cooperation, CHCCW will have a primary care provider at Central’s facility two days a week to treat Central’s residential patients for anything from minor injuries to chronic illness.

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“Historically, when our residential patients had a healthcare need, they would have gone to the ER or an Urgent Care facility. Unfortunately, if the patient isn’t able to pay for those services, that cost falls on the system and ultimately the public,” Central CEO Brandon Wardell said. “This partnership is a move toward eliminating that extra step and additional expense.”

In addition to being more cost effective, this program improves the overall quality of patient care. Immediate access to a primary provider means that treatment at Central is uninterrupted, and patients are able to address physical symptoms and conditions without significant gaps in their behavioral health and substance use treatment.

“We’re working together on a concept of care management, which looks at the whole health of the individual. When patients have to leave our facility to be treated for other health issues, it negatively impacts treatment here. Psychological and physical health aren’t separate, and they shouldn’t be treated separately, so with integrated care, we are able to treat their primary and behavioral health care needs at our facility,” Wardell said.

Wardell explained that most patients do not connect their physical symptoms or heath issues with an emotional state, behavioral pattern or lifestyle choice. As a result, it is up to providers to work together to educate and treat patients comprehensively. This partnership is just a pilot program and first step toward Wardell’s vision of collaborative, holistic care.

“This integrated, collaborative care pilot between CHCCW and Central is the first phase in building collaborative care relationships with primary and specialty health care providers in Casper and Natrona County. Collaborative care will create improved access to care, quality of care and patient outcomes,” Wardell said.

As part of its holistic health mission, Central plans to partner with other primary care providers in Natrona County, including the Wyoming Medical Center.

To learn more, call Central Wyoming Counseling Center Chief Operations Officer Jason Onken at 307.237.9583.