Help for body and mind in downtown Lynn

September 29, 2016

Lynn Community Health Center. Photo courtesy of Bond Brothers

By Gayla Cawley

LYNN — Lynn Community Health Center has been recognized as a leader in integrated healthcare for providing a one-stop shop for primary and behavioral health services.

In July, Lynn Health Center became the second practice to be certified by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission under its new Patient-Centered Medical Homes (PCMH) PRIME program. The PRIME certification program, which started soliciting applications last January, recognizes practices that deliver comprehensive care by addressing both physical and behavioral health in the primary care setting.

On Thursday, the health center, which was founded in 1971, was officially presented with its certificate from the commission.

“It’s wonderful to have the state appreciate the work that we’re doing,” said Lori Abrams Berry, executive director of the Lynn Community Health Center.

Berry said all of the health center’s primary care teams include behavioral health providers, adding that care being fully integrated is not that usual. Patients with diabetes often suffer from depression and would be able to receive care for both conditions, she added.

Behavioral health conditions, including mental illnesses and substance use disorders, are often characterized by both under- and delayed diagnosis and treatment, with a growing opinion in the medical community that behavioral health and primary care need to be integrated, according to the health policy commission.  

David Seltz, Health Policy Commission executive director, said the under-diagnosis of behavioral health conditions is a serious public health concern. The PRIME program works to identify behavioral health conditions early before emergencies can occur.

“We believe that coordinated care will not only result in better care for the patients, but will also avoid unnecessary hospitalizations and emergency department visits,” Seltz said. “Lynn is a longtime leader in the Commonwealth in serving the behavioral health needs of their patients.”

Lynn Health Center serves the low-income community with more than 90 percent of its patients at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. It features a diverse patient population of all ages that includes minority and non-English speaking demographics.

“Lynn Community Health Center is a leader in providing care in the community that is integrated and coordinated with various services,” said City Council President and state Rep. Daniel Cahill (D-Lynn).

State Rep. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn) said behavioral health is a big issue across the state and country.

“It’s great to have the state recognize the Lynn Community Health Center’s commitment to integrating the behavioral health with the medical health services,” he said.

Gayla Cawley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.