AUSTIN, Texas — A new mental health clinic opening this week, jointly operated by Integral Care and the Dell Medical School, will serve people with low incomes who are experiencing bipolar disorder.
The collaboration is part of the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences, launched last year through a $50 million gift from James and Miriam Mulva and the Mulva Family Foundation. The new clinic is in the Health Transformation Building of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin.
The clinic serves people living with the most complex mental health conditions — the population served by Integral Care, the local mental health authority serving the Travis County community since 1967. Integral Care will provide expert therapists and other mental health professionals to work in the clinic, as well as ongoing treatment and care to patients through other Integral Care services and programs.
“This is a unique partnership between academia and community-based mental health care,” said David Evans, Integral Care’s CEO. “Integral Care and Dell Medical School are leveraging their combined skill sets, expertise and knowledge to help individuals experiencing complex mental health issues to improve their health.”
The collaboration is unique among the clinics that have been established so far under UT Health Austin, the school’s clinical practice: in the new clinic, the practice team is led by Dell Med faculty physicians and Integral Care professionals. Providers will use the team-based, data-driven models and processes employed by UT Health Austin’s existing musculoskeletal, neurological and women’s health clinics. These innovative approaches are designed to increase value to patients by improving health outcomes and reducing costs.
UT Health Austin plans to offer similar services for other patients with bipolar disorder, including those with private health insurance and referred by outside providers, starting in the spring.
“The goal is to improve patient outcomes, regardless of a person’s ability to pay,” said Dr. Stephen Strakowski, chair of Dell Med’s Department of Psychiatry. “This community has a tremendous need for more mental health care. This collaboration with Integral Care will allow us to start providing that care as quickly as possible, and we’re looking forward to expanding services next year as we grow.”
Patients in the clinic will see a team of mental health specialists — a Dell Medical School doctor who is an expert in bipolar disorder, as well as Integral Care licensed therapists and a licensed vocational nurse who provide ongoing mental health support throughout their care. The team works together closely to provide the best possible mental health care in order to support the health and well-being of each patient.
“The clinic is primarily focused on helping people who are experiencing acute mental health episodes — we want to stabilize them in the clinic to support their recovery,” said Dr. Jorge Almeida, who directs the clinic. “Providing this specialized service ensures people get the right care at the right time and in the right location, which reduces the strain on emergency rooms and hospitals and improves patient health outcomes. Once patients are stable, they will seamlessly transition into Integral Care’s excellent community-based programs, helping them heal over the long term.”
In addition to therapy, case management and nursing, Integral Care provides a full array of services to patients, including crisis intervention and substance use disorder treatment.
“This is an opportunity to build our community-based workforce,” said Dr. James Baker, Integral Care’s systems chief medical officer and a member of Dell Med’s psychiatry faculty. “For the first time in Travis County, medical students and residents have the opportunity to experience community-based mental health care. Our hope is that some will be inspired to stay and provide this crucial care in our community.”