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Students within the Educational Service District 105 (ESD 105) service area will now have increased access to mental health services thanks to a 4-year, nearly $4 million federal grant award, and a partnership forged with Astria Health.
On September 29, 2022, ESD 105 announced that it was one of only seven recipients of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Trauma Informed Services in Schools grant. This funding is being used to fill an existing gap in mental health services affecting students across the region. ESD 105’s service area covers 25 school districts, and it is their goal to ensure that all students in the service area have access to mental health care when needed, without long waits to see a healthcare professional. To assure necessary coverage, ESD 105 partnered with Astria Health and Charles Bullfinch, D.O., to create a program that meets the needs of all students.
Dr. Bullfinch is well-known in the Yakima valley, and is deeply invested in the needs of the community. He completed his residency at Central Washington Family Medicine, and also sits on Pacific Northwest University’s Board of Directors. When Dr. Bullfinch was contacted by ESD 105 regarding his capacity to assist with this enhanced student services program, he offered to extend his weekly work schedule to assure that students receive the care they need. Along with the federal funding received by ESD 105, student access to these essential mental health services will greatly increase.
Students age 13 and under will need the written consent of a parent to seek care. Students 13 and older can seek mental health care on their own without written parental consent, however, students are encouraged to seek parental participation in their care. Students receive help through licensed clinical social workers in their school district, however, there are times when additional intervention is needed. Since the onset of the pandemic, ESD 105 has seen an increase in mental health concerns amongst its students, adding to the need for additional availability. “Too many students were not getting medications they need, and/or going completely untreated due to lack of services available to them,” said Dr. Bullfinch. “Increasing access to services and adding intervention modalities will help us provide these students with proper care.”
Astria Health’s involvement in the program began April 26. Initially, the program will roll out in one district, and depending on its success, will expand to all districts serviced by ESD 105. Along with their clinical social worker, students needing additional interventions will be scheduled for telehealth visits with Dr. Bullfinch. Parents can also join the telehealth visit remotely. Dr. Bullfinch continued, “this program has established processes that create a coordination of care between the patient, their school social worker and the physician, leading to best possible outcomes for students needing assistance.”
Astria Health is a non-profit healthcare system based in Eastern Washington. Astria Health is the parent organization of Astria Sunnyside Hospital and Astria Toppenish Hospital, along with 10 Rural Health Clinics and 12 outpatient centers offering primary care and specialty services, including but not limited to behavioral health, dental services, orthopedics, neurosurgery, oncology, podiatry, rehabilitation therapy, sleep medicine, and home health and hospice. For more information, please visit www.astria.health.
Posted May 03, 2023