MANATEE -- Licensed clinical social workers, behavioral-health case managers, psychiatric nurse practitioners and mental health support staffers, take note.
Manatee County Rural Health Services Inc. is hiring.
Rural Health was notified this week by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, that it has been awarded a pair of $250,000 Affordable Health Care grants for this year to beef up its behavioral health services.
"We're excited," said Linda Snyder, who co-authored the grants with Terrye Bradley. "It's a wonderful opportunity."
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Rural Health was awarded the money specifically for hiring new mental health professionals, adding mental health and substance-use-disorder health services and employing integrated models of primary care, Snyder said.
Manatee County Rural Health Services will spend about $200,000 this year on five new employees, as well as $40,000 for video equipment to do video conferencing between its various centers and $10,000 for office supplies and overhead, Snyder said.
This year's funds are available and the organization hopes to start hiring immediately, Snyder said.
"People can call us at 941-776-4000 if they are interested in one of these positions," Snyder said.
All five new positions will be at Rural Health's Southwest Health Center, 5325 26th St. W., Bradenton, where the focus is mental health services and psychiatry.
Southwest opened in January 2013.
The video equipment will enable primary health care providers at Rural Health's other centers to access behavior health providers at Southwest Health Center.
Rural Health operates 29 service locations in three counties including two mobile units, Snyder said.
"The vision is that if one of our doctors at any of our locations has a patient with issues of depression or anxiety, they can access a behavioral health specialist at the Southwest Health Center through video conferencing," Snyder said.
Snyder said MCRHS has a "talented" information technology staff that she hopes will set up the new equipment by Jan. 1.
An increase in demand at the Southwest Health Center has made the need urgent, Snyder said.
"I am sure the number of patients has increased there,"
Snyder said. "We had to expand staffing."
Southwest takes patients without insurance on a sliding fee scale since it is a federally qualified health center.
The grants were given only to federally qualified health centers and Rural Health is the only one in Manatee County, Snyder said.
Awards totaled $51.3 million in funding to support 210 health centers in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for nearly 440,000 people nationwide.
Five of the 210 recipients are located in Florida, including three in Miami and one in Palatka.
"Today's awards will give health centers the ability to improve access and care for individuals in need of mental health services," HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield said in a release. "These funds support the administration's focus on improving recognition of and responding to the mental health needs of people nationwide."