LifeSpring expands to offer primary care center

LifeSpring Health Systems has been serving Washington County’s mental and behavioral health needs for many years and now, patients and others in the community can receive primary care at the Salem location as well.

The non-profit community health care facility held a ribbon-cutting to commemorate the opening of their primary care wing Monday morning, with Senator Joe Donnelly and Representative Trey Hollingsworth there to help them celebrate.

“To all of you, thank you for providing care to those who might not get care otherwise,” Donnelly said. “… You are truly God’s messengers doing God’s work.”

“There’s a lot of reasons to be pessimistic about the world, but coming to places like this and seeing what you guys are doing and seeing the investment you make in this community, every single day and the lives that are changed every single day, there’s a lot to be optimistic about,” said Hollingsworth. “Everywhere there’s a problem, there’s a Hoosier way to solve that problem.”

The new wing added 8,000 square feet and nine new exam rooms to the preexisting facility on Jackson Street where patients can see physicians for anything they would go to a general practitioner for, from ear infections to bronchitis to a sprained ankle. The facility is a federally qualified health center, meaning it serves all ages in a wide variety of ways, no matter if a patient is insured.

“We’ll be able to provide comprehensive primary care for all ages and regardless of someone’s ability to pay,” said LifeSpring Senior Vice President for Community Health and Primary Care Services Beth Keeney. “We’ll offer childhood immunizations, well baby checks, acute care for things like ear infections, strep throat, things like that. We can even administer HIV tests. We work really hard to make sure our patients get seen as soon as possible, either that same day or the next day.”

A place offering greater access to mental and physical health can even make an impact on the county’s addiction and substance abuse problems, offering those who would otherwise turn to drugs a chance to have their underlying needs met.

“This is a critically important link for families and the state,” said Donnelly. “We just passed the farm bill and a big part of what I added to it focused on treating the ravages of opiod and other drug addiction. Everyone deserves an equal chance at treatment for mental health and physical health. This is a critical part in helping Washington County citizens get quality care … Mental healthcare services can help people avoid addiciton in the first place and can help people who are addicted get away from drugs.”

With its proximity to the behavioral health facility in the building, patients can be treated for both physical and mental health needs.

“A patient may come in saying they’re having trouble sleeping and they see a primary care physician and it may be determined they have some anxiety or depression going on,” said Dr. Eric Yazel, Chief Medical Officer for LifeSpring and the Primary Care Derector. “That doctor can go right down the hall and be a warm hand-off for the patient to one of our behavioral health therapists. A combination of behavioral therapy and medicine have been proven to be the best treatment for patients.”

And vice versa. A behavioral therapist may notice a medical problem in a client and be able to refer them to a physician down the hall who can help them with a physical illness or injury.

“We want to be a place the community can utilize now and into the future,” said Keeney. “… This has been ongoing for about a year. We added a very limited primary care line about a year ago and our official opening is today. We really feel excited about our new facility here.”

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