Grant enables nonprofits to hire mental health medication prescriber |

Grant enables nonprofits to hire mental health medication prescriber

From left, Christian Center employees Alma Armendariz, Shauna Wiest,Leah Harter and Linsey Broadbent, People’s Health Center Director Beth Armstrong, Peace House Director Tim Savage and Ellen Silver of Jewish Family Services.
Courtesy of Christian Center of Park City

The demand for mental health care has skyrocketed at the Christian Center of Park City in the last couple years, and the nonprofit has hired a key position that it says will improve the level of care for a diverse range of Summit County patients.

Thanks to a grant from a local nonprofit, the center hired Dr. Linsey Broadbent, who is a doctor of nursing practice and a family nurse practitioner, and can for the first time prescribe mental health medications for patients. The grant spans four area nonprofits, and Broadbent will also see patients at Jewish Family Service, Peace House and the People’s Health Clinic.

Broadbent said the position represents a “unique” opportunity.

“The evidence suggests both medicine and therapy (together) work best,” she said. “Very rarely do therapists and prescribers get to work together and share perspectives on patients.”

Leah Harter, director of counseling at the Christian Center, said she sees a lot of cases of trauma, anxiety and depression, and about half of the patients who come through are on medication. Adding Broadbent will enable the center to help those patients more than in the past.

“The folks that will really benefit are the underserved,” Harter said. “Folks who don’t have resources, folks who will now have someone specialized to take care of their needs.”

She added that the position is a “tremendous enhancement for our community.”

In the first quarter of this year, the center has facilitated nearly half as many mental health sessions as it did in all of 2017.

Shauna Wiest, the center’s development director, chalked that up to diminishing stigma in the community about mental health, expanding hours outside a normal 9-5 schedule, and a scholarship program that started in late 2017 that helps defray costs.

Harter said that approximately 20 percent of the mental health sessions used scholarship assistance last year.

Broadbent’s first day seeing patients was June 13. She likened her new position to being a hub in the center of a wheel, with services provided by the four nonprofits expanding outward like spokes.

When she’s working with the People’s Health Clinic, for example, she said she can talk to the pharmacists the clinic has on site to work out a cost-effective medication plan for a patient. Or if she sees a patient who’s struggling securing their basic needs, she can refer them to services at the Christian Center like the food pantry or clothing store.

Broadbent said she has a doctorate of nursing practice and is board certified in family medicine. She worked for many years as a nurse at the University of Utah in emergency medicine and transplant services and is continuing her education as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Rocky Mountain University.

She lives in Oakley and is married with two teenagers. She grew up in Heber, but moved to Oakley when “Heber got too big.” She said her teenagers got her interested in the “mental health aspect” of medicine, especially when she considered the high rate of suicide that affects that age group.

She recalled doing rotations in a family medicine clinic where she would see perhaps 16 patients in a day, 10 of whom would be dealing with mental health issues. Some of those would be coming back “over and over” for a stomachache or headache, when the real issue might have been an underlying anxiety condition.

“I thought, I’ve got to be more educated on this and be able to better provide for these patients,” she said.

Providing mental health care in Summit County is challenging, Broadbent said, as anyone who has tried to arrange an appointment knows.

“The waitlist can be months long … (and) sometimes those resources aren’t going to the people who really need it,” she said.

Many patients would have to drive to Salt Lake City to manage their medications, Harter said.

Sessions at the Christian Center cost between $90 and $130 per hour, Harter said, with the scholarship fund available to help those who can’t afford it.

Broadbent’s position is funded by a three-year grant from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, which was originally given to the Park City Community Foundation. The foundation then decided the Christian Center would hire and house the new position, but the services would be shared “equitably” among the four nonprofits, according to a news release.

Harter is optimistic the center will be able to continue funding the position after the grant dries up, though it will require raising additional funds.

Broadbent said she enjoys being a part of building something and that “the opportunity really spoke to me.”

“I caught the vision of what this could mean for our community,” she said. “It’s really invigorating to be working with people who just have people’s best interests at heart.”

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