Published on September 08, 2015

UNC WakeBrook Awarded $1.6 Million Federal Grant to Expand Primary Care Clinic

Money to Help Improve Medical Care for Patients with Severe Mental Illness

RALEIGH, N.C. – UNC WakeBrook has won a $1.6 million federal grant to expand its primary care clinic, enhance its medical care and services available, and explore ways to improve the integration of primary and behavioral health care. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded the four-year grant to WakeBrook Medical Director Dr. Brian Sheitman.

WakeBrook is a behavioral health facility owned by Wake County and operated by UNC Health Care since 2013 for the benefit of Wake County residents. In addition to providing a wide range of services for patients with behavioral health and substance abuse disorders, WakeBrook providers opened a clinic last year to offer basic preventative and primary medical care to individuals with a severe mental illness who do not have a primary care provider.

WakeBrook’s primary care clinic now serves about 250 patients. The grant will allow the clinic to expand and eventually treat more than 750 patients. Most of those have a serious mental illness, have or are at-risk for developing a chronic physical illness, and do not have a primary care provider. The clinic helps treat acute and chronic health conditions such as hypertension, asthma, diabetes, obesity and more.

“People with severe mental illness die on average 25 years earlier, and it’s usually related to untreated medical problems,” Dr. Sheitman said. “We will now be able to offer a full medical home that’s designated for people with a severe mental illness. This grant will also help us determine the best model to deliver care for this population of patients.”

Through the grant, WakeBrook will offer preventative care through the Department of Public Health that focuses on weight loss and smoking cessation. The clinic will also gather data to demonstrate the importance of integrating primary and behavioral health care to improve patient outcomes.

“The patients we serve aren’t getting much-needed medical care elsewhere, except maybe at a hospital Emergency Department,” said Dr. Beat Steiner, director of WakeBrook’s primary care clinic. “Sometimes these patients are more difficult to treat, and some doctors may not have the time allotted in a busy office practice that’s required. We’re proud to help our patients thrive.”

The new grant comes as construction continues on an expansion at UNC WakeBrook that will add 12 more inpatient beds to the facility. That addition is expected to be ready for patients in 2016. UNC WakeBrook is located at 111 Sunnybrook Road, Raleigh. For more information, call (984) 974-4800.