Monday, August 14, 2017 12:00 AM

Putting together the pieces for those in need

Skyrocketing mental health emergency calls over the last decade, led to the formation of a cross sector group called Community Conversations around Mental Health. Since its beginning, Community Medical Centers has been a part of this collaborative, which met under the premise that it would take the entire community to improve mental health. And out of that collaboration came the Multi-Access Program Point (MAP Point) concept – a “one stop shop” to connect those in need of mental health or substance abuse services, housing, social services, veteran’s benefits and more.
In 2016, the Fresno County Department of Behavioral Health took the MAP concept and expanded it to help improve access to services for mental illness and substance abuse to underserved populations throughout the county. Community was part of a multi-agency collaborative which responded to the request for proposal that Fresno County put forth. And at the end of this year, Community Regional’s Deran Koligian Ambulatory Care Center will become one of eight Fresno County MAP Points facilitating help such as healthcare coverage enrollment, substance abuse and mental health treatment, housing and food access.

The first MAP Point was at the Poverello House and provided help targeted to those who were homeless. More than 3,440 individuals and families were connected to housing, mental health services and other resources in the first year at the Fresno homeless shelter’s MAP Point.
“We took the screening tool used at that first MAP Point and have expanded it significantly to help us reach populations that we have difficulties reaching,” said Dawan Utecht, director of Fresno County Behavioral Health, which has provided funding to help continue the program. Providing a home without addressing other social needs, especially mental health, makes it difficult to maintain housing, Utecht pointed out at the opening of the second MAP Point in Selma.
“If we can remove barriers to social services then we know we’ll see improvements in health for these families,” said Linda Stokes, Ph.D., director of population health at Community Regional, who is continuing to serve in an advisory role to the MAP Point collaborative group, which is headed by Kings View, Centro La Familia and Poverello House. “Delivering help through the emergency room is very expensive and really not as effective at delivering the care that will make this biggest difference.”
Erin Kennedy reported this story. Reach her at