LA GRANDE — Grande Ronde Hospital and Clinics, La Grande, is expanding its health system.
The hospital announced Friday, March 19, that Blue Mountain Associates, an outpatient treatment center in La Grande, will become part of the GRH system. The hospital reported it expects a full transition to a new GRH Behavioral Health Clinic to begin June 1.
GRH President and CEO Jeremy Davis in a press release said the acquisition means better care for Union County residents and allows for fuller integration of behavioral health care into the hospital’s system. He cited the trend over the last decade toward a multi-discipline care track that places the patient at the center of a collaborative expertise model designed to treat the whole patient with medical, mental and behavioral services.
“We believe this integration of services will help improve coordination and access for a broader spectrum of health services for the people of Union County,” Davis said.
Dr. Joel Rice, who started BMA almost 30 years ago, echoed Davis’ statement.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Rice said. “The process of integrating behavioral health care into primary care clinics, hospital wards and emergency rooms is the cutting edge of innovation in health care not only nationally, but worldwide.”
The press release did not provide any financial terms of the deal.
The integrated team of Blue Mountain Associates and Grande Ronde Hospital associates will eventually work from BMA’s location at 1101 I Ave., providing a home base as both entities work to ensure a smooth transition. According to the announcement, BMA patients should notice little difference in their care.
Grande Ronde’s behavioral health team will continue to see patients in all primary care locations. However, Rice will have an office in Grande Ronde’s Regional Medical Clinic, 506 Fourth St., La Grande.
Davis added that having the first psychiatrist on staff at the clinic gives the organization a key foundational building block for recruiting additional psychiatrists to the GRH team. Notably, the clinic also is the first primary care clinic in Union County to have a pharmacist on staff.
GRH was an early adopter of the Comprehensive Primary Care Initiative, which the federal government launched in 2012 to strengthen primary care. The plan set the stage for population-based care management and cost-savings opportunities and was the foundation for the broader Comprehensive Primary Care Plus, which the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services initiated in 2017 and referred to as the “largest-ever multi-payer initiative to improve primary care in America.”
The program seeks to improve quality, access and efficiency of primary care. Numerous studies show the integration of medical, mental and behavioral health services can serve to reduce the demand on emergency services in community hospitals.