OUR VIEW: Local healthcare coalition is on the right track

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:43 am on Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not many folks understand exactly what the Affordable Care Act (ACA) means for them individually. And because information on what’s required has been slow coming, many businesses are muddling a bit, too.

While there’s a lot of chatter about the uncertainty and fallout this healthcare overhaul has had and will have in the months to come, there is at least one bright spot right here in our area.

Healthcare professionals from Montcalm and Gratiot counties have started meeting to talk about the idea for a “community hub.” This would create some kind of process for identifying people who frequently visit emergency rooms for the same issues that may be rooted to more of a mental health issue than a physical one.

One of the goals of the ACA is to reduce the number of visits patients make to their doctors for the same problems. And often, local experts say, medical doctors — who cannot be expected to have training in diagnosing mental health issues — treat patients again and again without realizing something more may be to blame.

While this local coalition is just beginning its research on how to better connect the medical and mental health communities here with regard to patient care, they’ve already got some great ideas.

Whether it means having a mental health professional in emergency rooms or simply putting in place a way to identify people more likely to fall into the mental health category, we feel they’re on the right track.

This is an issue that not only costs hospitals thousands of dollars each year, but also prevents people who could get treatment for mental health issues from living a healthier life.

We look forward to seeing what this group moves forward.

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