The Roundup -

RMC Integrates Behavioral Health Into Clinic Services


December 16, 2020 | View PDF

Roosevelt Medical Center proudly welcomes Sherry Hilyard, a licensed clinical social worker and addiction counselor to its’ clinical team as part of the Integrated Behavioral Health Initiative. The project is an effort to improve health and reduce related costs through the widespread implementation of integrated behavioral health into primary care.

Approximately 60% of patients with mental health issues seek care from their primary care providers rather than mental health professionals. In rural areas, it can be difficult for primary care providers to find mental health services for the patients who need them which can lead to overutilization of primary care services and poorer overall health outcomes.

“Primary care works best when it focuses on the whole person. The integrated behavioral health model of care starts with screening for behavioral health problems during primary care appointments. Then, patients receive immediate care for common issues like depression, anxiety and substance misuse as part of the same meeting. It also includes care coordination to health barriers that make it difficult to get well, like poor housing and lack of transportation,” said Mandy Byrd, clinic coordinator.

Once patients are identified as individuals who would benefit from an appointment with Hilyard, they will be referred to her for an appointment. Community members can also contact the clinic directly without a primary care appointment and be seen without a referral on a fee-for-service basis. Hilyard is the only licensed social worker and addiction counselor in the area able to provide services to Medicare patients and provides services through the Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center, Plentywood. She covers a vast area including Roosevelt, Daniels, Richland and Valley counties.

With over 25 years of clinical experience, Hilyard has spent nearly her entire career working in New Mexico. Living and working near where the Mexican cartel drug wars were taking place, Hilyard specialized in suicide prevention and trauma. One of her other specialty areas included helping patients diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. She also served as a clinical director with oversight of the administrative office staff, Mobile Crises Response Team, Assertive Community Treatment programs, child and adult outpatient programs as well as on-site training for staff.

“In rural areas, there is a pervasive stigma associated with behavioral health. I want to bridge both the need for services and the need for education about this as an issue that needs both diagnosis and treatment,” Hilyard said.

Hilyard received her Bachelor’s Degree in counseling and human services from MSU-Billings and her Master’s Degree in social work from New Mexico State University, Las Cruces.

She returned to northeast Montana, where she grew up, in 2017 to work for Eastern Montana Community Mental Health Center, Plentywood. “I came back to the area because I was ready to come home and because I recognized there are a lot of unresolved behavioral health traumas in this area. Mental trauma is the focus of what my work has always been and I wanted to use my experience and expertise to make this problem less pervasive in this area by providing the services people desperately need,” she said.

Ten of 11 large hospitals and 32 of 48 small, critical access hospitals are participating in the program.

Patients will be able to schedule appointments with Hilyard on Fridays by contacting the clinic. For more information, contact 406-787-6400.


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