More health care

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Finding treatment programs for individuals with mental illness and drug or alcohol addictions will be simpler thanks to a two-year grant awarded to the Gibson Recovery Center in Cape Girardeau.

The $453,809 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health will allow the center to expand its treatment programs throughout the region and fill a necessary gap in health care. The foundation, which is the state's largest health-care funding organization, distributes money to community organizations that serve the uninsured and underinsured in 84 eastern Missouri counties and the city of St. Louis -- the area formerly served by Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Missouri, whose not-for profit assets were used to create the foundation.

The grant for the Gibson Center comes at an opportune time, weeks after a community survey listed access to health care and treatment for substance abuse as top concerns for the region.

The Gibson Center serves Cape Girardeau, Perry, Bollinger, Scott and Stoddard counties. It was chosen for the foundation grant because its plan was designed to treat patients with both mental illness and substance abuse and it would fill the gap for such programs in the Bootheel.

Treating substance abuse is done in both residential and outpatient programs at the Gibson Center. The grant will allow 200 more clients to be seen by doctors and case workers. Currently the center treats 473 residential clients annually and 471 outpatient clients monthly.

The grant might even allow the Gibson Center to hire an on-site psychiatrist, the center director says. Additional support staff will be hired as well to handle the increase in patients.

Both the Missouri Foundation for Health and community leaders have recognized the region's need for better care for people with mental illness and those with substance abuse problems. The foundation's grant will provide a good start for the community's attempt at addressing those problems.

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