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Aunt Martha’s Offers Telepsychiatry to Rural Areas in Illinois

Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center has begun utilizing telepsychiatry to reach children and adolescents at six community mental health centers in rural areas of Illinois. Telepsychiatry is a form of telemedicine and is increasingly growing in popularity across the United States. Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.
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Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center has begun utilizing telepsychiatry to reach children and adolescents at six community mental health centers in rural areas of Illinois. Telepsychiatry is a form of telemedicine and is increasingly growing in popularity across the United States. Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.

Six Community Mental Health Centers in downstate Illinois will refer children and adolescents, ages 0-17 with behavioral and emotional problems, who can access the video-conferencing for psychiatric evaluations and medication management through Aunt Martha’s videoconferencing network. Telepsychiatry reduces costs for families by eliminating travel, child care expenses and saves time.

Aunt Martha’s has years of experience providing services to children and families and has developed a collaborative model of service delivery that provides individualized, accessible and culturally sensitive services. Currently Aunt Martha’s employs five child and adolescent psychiatrists serving children and adolescents over five counties in northeastern and east-central Illinois. A certified/board eligible child psychiatrist will be employed in this program.

Aunt Martha’s is the first private secure network in Illinois to provide telepsychiatry services. The technology system that has been created is the first of its kind in the state. Illinois, like many states with rural areas, has a shortage of child psychiatrists. Aunt Martha’s telepsychiatry program will bring much needed child psychiatrists to these rural Illinois communities and provide a model for expanding services to more communities in Illinois in the future.

Aunt Martha’s Healthcare Network Expanding Mental Health Services

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Aurora, Illinois – Elizabeth M. Duke, Ph.D, Administrator, Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services visited Aunt Martha’s Aurora Community Health Center on Thursday, September 25, 2008 to personally deliver a $150,000 mental health service expansion grant.

“Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center, Inc. was informed of the award last month, but having the Administrator present the award personally is a great honor for the Aunt Martha’s organization,” said Gary Leofanti, Aunt Martha’s President & CEO.

Dr. Duke has led the implementation of President Bush’s Health Center Initiative, which has created or expanded 1,200 health centers since 2001 and boosted the number of patients served annually at health centers from 10 million in 2001 to 17 million in 2007. Currently, federally qualified health centers deliver high quality primary and preventive care to patients, regardless of their ability to pay, at 7,000 sites across the United States.

The grant will enable Aunt Martha’s to expand mental health and substance abuse services to an additional 1,200 adults and 600 children and youth at full operational capacity. The expansion will target the 31,000 uninsured and medically underserved individuals in Aurora and surrounding communities.

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Recognizing that primary care is the main portal of entry into treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders, Aunt Martha’s requested funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration to better integrate mental health and substance abuse services into primary care, provide additional psychiatric appointments, and employ a bilingual therapist to serve the needs of Spanish speaking patients.

“The need for integrated behavioral health services at our Aurora sites is clearly evident,” said Leofanti. “We receive about 3 referrals a week to provide psychiatric or therapy services to adults without insurance. Given conservative estimates of 20% incidence of depression and 5.4% incidence of serious mental illness in the Kane County population, roughly 760 of our adult primary care and homeless patients may suffer from depression alone and 150 may suffer from serious mental illness.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated, or medically vulnerable. For more information about HRSA and its programs, visit www.hrsa.gov.

Technology Helps Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center Keep Current

CISCO Unified Communications is the phone and voice over IP provider for Aunt Martha’s. CISCO works with the agency in responding to the technological needs in a cost effective and user friendly manner. This technology allows Aunt Martha’s to use its own network of communication lines to make and receive phone calls. In May 2007, Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center’s IT and Communications & Development Departments worked with CISCO Systems on a promotional video.

CISCO Unified Communications is the phone and voice over IP provider for Aunt Martha’s. CISCO works with the agency in responding to the technological needs in a cost effective and user friendly manner. This technology allows Aunt Martha’s to use its own network of communication lines to make and receive phone calls. In May 2007, Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center’s IT and Communications & Development Departments worked with CISCO Systems on a promotional video.

CISCO sent camera and sound technicians as well as a producer from New York to capture Aunt Martha’s employees using technology in assisting clients. CISCO has used this video in their marketing campaign to other non-profits.

In this three minute video, see how upgrading the telephone systems enables Aunt Martha’s to more effectively pair people with assistance programs, and see Aunt Martha’s innovative approaches in helping people!

Aunt Martha’s Youth Go To Washington DC

Staff members and youth volunteers from Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center participated in a nationwide symposium February 11-14, 2008 in Washington D.C.

“Sustaining Success in a Time of Change” was the theme of the 18th Annual Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership Forum. This conference attracts youth advocates and social service leaders from across the nation.

Staff members and youth volunteers from Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center participated in a nationwide symposium February 11-14, 2008 in Washington D.C.

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“Sustaining Success in a Time of Change” was the theme of the 18th Annual Community Anti Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) National Leadership Forum. This conference attracts youth advocates and social service leaders from across the nation.

Representing Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center at the Youth Conference were Mary Jo Brill of Homewood, Youth Participation Program Coordinator, Anna Soloff of Homewood, Youth Participation Program Coordinator, along with the youth volunteers: Andre Hubbard of Park Forest, Ozzie Moore of Park Forest, Latoyia Kelly of Park Forest, Latia Alexander of Park Forest, and Laryah Alexander of Park Forest.

Highlighting the conference was Capitol Hill Day where conference attendees rallied together on Capitol Hill in order to generate support for appropriations for prevention programs geared toward keeping youth active and drug free. Following the rally, attendees met privately with their local legislators to discuss the importance of this type of funding. Aunt Martha’s representatives met with U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Chicago.

“One of our program goals is to show youth that they can have a voice in matters that concern them. This visit gave them that opportunity”, Mary Jo Brill said. “Talking with one of our nation’s leaders was truly an empowering experience for them.”

The mission of CADCA is “To Strengthen the Capacity of Community Coalitions to Create and Maintain Safe, Healthy and Drug-Free Communities.” CADCA supports its members with training and technical assistance, public policy advocacy, media strategies and marketing programs, conferences and special events.

Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center and Aunt Martha’s Healthcare Network is a private, not-for-profit, regionally-based agency providing complete health and social services for family members of all ages in underserved areas across Illinois. Established in 1972, Aunt Martha’s now has services in nine counties throughout Illinois and cares for over 39,000 Illinois residents. The agency is state licensed to provide child welfare, substance abuse treatment and child care services. All services, including mental health and primary health care, are accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). Aunt Martha’s is also a United Way partner agency.

Other Articles and Press Releases

Aunt Martha’s Kyla Williams receives Community Renewal’s 35 under 35 Leadership
Award
– Web Page
Aunt Martha’s opens preventive health care center for uninsured on Advocate South
Suburban Campus
– PDF
THE GED: A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION – Web Page
Chicago Heights Community Health Center Now Open on Sundays – PDF
Aunt Martha’s Aurora Community Health Center to Offer Services at New Location – PDF
Aunt Martha’s to Expand Healthcare Services in Carpentersville – PDF

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