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Behavioral health care is coming to more primary care centers.

Hudson Headwaters expanded to offer help at its primary care centers for mild to moderate mental illness. Last year, Glens Falls Hospital also added psychiatric nurse practitioners at its rural medical centers, to save patients the drive to Glens Falls.

Now Saratoga Hospital is expanding its efforts, too. The hospital recently hired Janice Prichett to oversee the effort, in which the hospital has embedded social workers at all of its primary care medical centers.

Doctors will do more behavioral health screenings and will send patients to the social worker immediately, or within 24 hours, if there are any concerns.

Primary care centers are getting into behavioral health because doctors have found that mentally ill people can’t take care of themselves as well. They often need only a small amount of care — a medication or counseling. But many people don’t get it.

“With it, health care outcomes are much better,” Prichett said. “People with chronic disease and mental health do much better if their behavioral health is addressed.”

While many patients don’t call a psychologist on their own, 80 percent of them will go to a primary care physician, she said.

The Saratoga Hospital medical centers will now screen for anxiety, depression, domestic violence, drug use, alcoholism and other problems ranging from food insecurity to a lack of affordable housing.

The screening will increase the volume of patients seen by the social workers, Prichett said. She expects to hire more social workers as the need becomes clear.

Calling Gillibrand

A local man is somewhat single-handedly trying to get Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to give a speech in Glens Falls.

Ron Hintz wants her to discuss the future of health care.

“I’d like to leave the politics out of it as much as possible and get to the meat of the nut, which is health care,” he said. “Perhaps she can present her plans.”

He has already discussed the plan with Centers Health Care and local politicians. He’s envisioning a tour of Washington Center nursing home and Glens Falls Hospital, followed by a speech at the Civic Center.

So far, he has heard nothing from her. A call from The Post-Star went unanswered Friday, but given the great deal of discussion about the cost of health care here right now, it seems a no-brainer to get a presidential candidate from New York to talk about the issue.

Is housing a health care issue?

The new Habitat for Humanity executive director has been making very interesting waves in the last year.

Executive Director Adam Feldman plans to partner with the Open Door Mission homeless shelter on a house-building project. Homeless visitors to Open Door can work on the project, learning construction skills.

Now he’s “planting seeds” on the topic of housing being a health issue.

“Housing is correlated with health, more so than DNA,” he said. “Housing and health care can come together to solve problems in the community.”

So far, he has been floating this philosophical statement throughout the region, seeing where the seeds might grow.

“Nothing is coming together yet,” he said. “I’m just planting seeds. Maybe in a few years something will happen.”

Habitat for Humanity specializes in getting poor people out of bad housing. It would be interesting to see a study of the Habitat homeowners to see if their health improved by owning a home that is not falling apart, infested or too small for the number of people in it.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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reporter - Health care, Moreau, Queensbury, South Glens Falls

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