The Evolution of Total Healthcare at Porter-Starke Services

 “Improved access to total healthcare for those with barriers to services.” The Porter-Starke Services Board of Directors recently voted to include this value in the company’s mission, vision, and values. “Total healthcare,” however, was not always associated with community mental health. Yet, over the last decade, we have evolved our services to better care for the whole person, both mind and body.

This process began in 2005, when we began offering co-located, part-time psychiatric services at HealthLinc, a local Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). After three years, we formalized and expanded our partnership. HealthLinc provided primary care services at Porter-Starke Services, and we provided behavioral healthcare services at HealthLinc.

To bring health and wellness to the entire community, not just our clients, we began hosting the annual Valparaiso Turkey Trot in 2010. In just a few short years, this 10K Run and 5K Walk/Run grew to 4,000 participants, making it the largest race in Northwest Indiana.

For our clients, we began offering healthy activities to help them learn different ways to care for their health and wellness. In 2012, through a local United Way grant, we established a Wellness Club so that clients may learn and practice new skills, such as exercise, illness management, nutrition and diet, and preparing healthy meals.

In 2013, we became a grantee of SAMHSA’s Primary and Behavioral Health Care Integration. Through this grant, we collaborate with Oaklawn, Swanson Center, HealthLinc, and Indiana Health Centers to improve care coordination and health promotion and prevention activities for people with serious mental illness.

After a decade of evolution, we applied to become an FQHC in Gary, Indiana. We now provide integrated healthcare at a new site, Marram Health Center, with six physicians, a psychiatrist, and three nurse practitioners treating patients’ bodies and minds, especially for people experiencing homelessness. In just three months, over 250 patients have received services at Marram.

As national research and our experience have shown, integrated healthcare offers our clients better outcomes and a better quality of life. We will continue to integrate our services to improve the health of our clients and our community, while remaining true to our founding purpose to serve as a Community Mental Health Center. Officially incorporating “total healthcare” into our guiding values celebrates our deepening commitment to care for the whole person.