A look at a Sí Texas Project Integrated Behavioral Health model: Juntos for Better Health

By Anne Connor, director of community grants

In 2014, Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. launched the Sí Texas Project: Social Innovation for a Healthy South Texas (Sí Texas Project) with support from an unprecedented federal investment of $10 million by the Social Innovation Fund, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Through the Sí Texas Project, Methodist Healthcare Ministries is evaluating nine evidence-based models of Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) care, with some innovative aspects targeted at 12 counties within Methodist Healthcare Ministries' service area.

This week I'd like to take a closer look at the Juntos for Better Health IBH model. Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) and its partners will implement this model in the Laredo area. This model combines prevention and IBH care.

Juntos for Better Health is a partnership of several community service providers, forming the first fully-coordinated health care delivery system among multiple partners in Laredo. It is based on the Dartmouth Prevention Care Management Unit (PCMU) model, which places empowerment of clients and communities at the core. The goal of this project is to develop a coordinated and integrated health care delivery network to improve the health of the community.

TAMIU and its partners will focus on the health care system in Webb, Zapata and Jim Hogg counties. This model provides a continuum of care for those with obesity, diabetes, and depression, using a prevention focus to increase compliance, traveling teams, and additional personnel to increase health care capacity, a shared system of resources, and improving knowledge of illnesses. Juntos for Better Health is comprised of three different, but interacting intervention prongs.

1. Prong 1 involves a health education activity and a treatment compliance component. The Juntos model will offer health education on obesity, diabetes, and depression to participants in various community settings in an effort to increase prevention of these illnesses by improving knowledge. TAMIU College of Nursing faculty and students will follow a modified version of the Dartmouth Prevention Care Management Model, which involves a PCMU. Patients with diabetes and/or depression at Border Region Behavioral Health Center and the Laredo Health Department, as well as partnering organizations, who miss appointments, will receive phone calls and home visits in an effort to increase treatment plan compliance.

2. Prong 2 involves traveling health care teams. These teams will engage clients of partner organizations and refer them to appropriate services. Clients who are referred for services but are noncompliant will be placed in the PCMU group for follow-up (Prong 1).

3. Prong 3 involves building capacity and sharing resources among and within partner organizations through the addition of staff, development of referral protocols, and developing a shared health information system to improve plans of care and facilitate referrals.

TAMIU and its partners will implement an intervention that combines the Dartmouth PCMU model and the innovative Juntos model, both of which are client/community empowerment models.

To view previous blogs in this series of Sí Texas blog posts, subscribe at www.mhm.org/blog.