KCON receives federal grant to partner with Dwelling Place to provide integrative primary, mental health services

Staff photo of GVSU Family Health Center staff, some in medical coats
Staff members at the GVSU Family Health Center are pictured. A grant will create a partnership with Dwelling Place to provide integrated mental and primary care for residents.
Image Credit: Amanda Pitts

Grand Valley's Kirkhof College of Nursing received a $1.5 million federal grant to provide integrated primary and behavioral health services at housing sites in Grand Rapids' Heartside neighborhood through the GVSU Family Health Center and Dwelling Place.

The grant, with 0 percent financed with non-governmental sources, comes from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The goal of the federal program is to increase access and quality of primary care and behavioral health services to individuals living in low-income housing.  

Tamara Van Kampen, practice manager at the GVSU Family Health Center and project director for the grant, collaborated with Dwelling Place staff to identify three housing sites in the Heartside neighborhood for the project, which at capacity will serve nearly 240 residents.

The GVSU Family Health Center will serve as the operational hub and provide coordination of integrative care, medical billing and data management. Funding from the grant allows for the addition of a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, a social worker, and a community health worker who will be trained in mental health first aid to care for the vulnerable residents.

Dennis Sturtevant, CEO of Dwelling Place, said this provides a path to wellness for residents who may have been homeless for years and now live in permanent housing.

"These residents often come to housing with a multitude of complicated health conditions," Sturtevant said. "We believe this program will have a significant impact to improve quality of life for our residents and to increase the likelihood for long-term housing stability." 

Cynthia McCurren, dean of KCON, said the grant fits well with the mission of the GVSU Family Health Center, a nurse-managed center on Sheldon Boulevard in the Heartside neighborhood, to respond to the health care needs of the community. The project also allows for creating more high-quality clinical experiences for students, which will improve access to behavioral health care services.

"There are not enough mental health care providers to fill the need, and the pandemic is making a difficult situation worse," McCurren said. "Portions of the grant funding will be used to train nursing and health professions students through behavioral health clinical rotations at the GVSU Family Health Center and Dwelling Place sites. Learning will be further enhanced with the inclusion of telehealth technology as a care delivery option."

Outcomes over the course of the three-year project include expanded access to behavioral health services in the Heartside neighborhood, decreased use of emergency services by residents, reduced evictions for partner sites, and increased mental health educational opportunities for students, according to Van Kampen.

Moran said the Family Health Center and KCON are well-positioned to facilitate this grant. In 2018, KCON received a $493,687 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to provide on-site primary care to seniors living in low-income housing, deploying primary-care providers from the GVSU Family Health Center.