The Walmart Foundation awarded a $693,750 grant to Mercy’s Behavioral Health Services. The money will be used to fund additional staffing and program ramp up.
Mercy is planning to hire 12 additional behavioral health providers including psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, social workers, therapists and psychological examiners. Three of those health professionals have already been hired.
”The Walmart Foundation grant is significant in helping us move forward to meet this need,” said Dr. Steve Goss, president of Mercy Clinic Northwest Arkansas. “Without a doubt it is a gaping hole in our community and to address it we have to come together. It’s why we are thankful for the Walmart Foundation’s support as we prepare to turn the tide on mental health needs in our area.”
The hire of Dr. Nick Ogle as Program Director of Behavioral Health is the first step toward ramping up the program. Dr. Ogle has been on the faculty of John Brown University for the last eight years and is also one of the founders of the Joshua Center, which provides affordable counseling services in Fayetteville and Rogers. Dr. Ogle is busy developing a new outpatient model that places therapists throughout NWA in Mercy’s existing clinics.
“Access to quality mental health care is a challenge in many communities, and vital to helping people live healthy lives,” said Karen Parker, Senior Manager, the Walmart Foundation.
She adds that the foundation is pleased to support this issue.
According to Mercy’s community overview, among the adult population, depression and anxiety presents itself as the eighth most prevalent chronic disease. Mercy psychiatrists receive 50 self-referrals weekly and more than 500 internal patient referrals annually. Since 2012, Benton County alone has experienced a 9% growth rate, and the area anticipates continued growth.
“From children to adults and senior adults, the need for more behavioral health services shows itself to primary care and specialty physicians each and every day,” Dr. Ogle said. “Physical ailments often walk hand in hand with mental ones. To properly treat the patient, we have to be ready to provide both types of care. It allows the doctors to work closely together in a patient’s best interest.”