Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center believes it can provide better health care for less money in its new Niagara Wellness Connection Center.
By offering overall health care to people with mental illness or drug problems, hospital officials say they can help patients deal with their problems and connected health issues like diabetes. They say treating a person for addiction alone doesn't resolve the health issues of the whole person
According to Chief Operating Officer Sheila Kee, the hospital spent $2 million to construct the new center out of an old outpatient mental health clinic.
"What we're trying to do is take care of the whole person. Somebody who has mental illness, chances are they also have diabetes. They may also likely have an addictions issue, including smoking. So, just giving them behavioral health therapy is not enough. They have got physical issues and other issues that have to be treated," Kee says.
The center will also connect patients with community organizations which help with the specific problem of the patient and those organizations will have space right in the wellness center to connect with the patients and make sure they continue their help.
Kee says the hospital's mission is constantly challenged by the reality of pervasive poverty in Niagara Falls.