By William K. Alcorn
The Ohio North East Health Systems celebrated its 25th anniversary by remembering its past and pushing into the future through collaborations with mental health organizations that are unique in Ohio.
“Dream Big” was the theme for Friday’s celebration at Tippecanoe Country Club and for the future of ONE Health Ohio, said Dr. Ronald Dwinnells, chief executive officer.
The partnering of ONE Health Ohio with local behavioral-health services is the only one of its kind in Ohio, and one of the few in the country,” Dr. Dwinnells said.
The model of integrating physical and behavioral health care under one roof has been in place for a year between ONE Health Ohio and the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board, with placement of a satellite medical clinic at a Valley Counseling Services site.
Now, ONE Health Ohio and the Mahoning County Mental Health Board have agreed to place a medical clinic at Turning Point Counseling, one of the MCMHB’s agencies.
Just as ONE Health Ohio grew from one part-time facility on Oak Street in 1986 to nine now, with more in the planning stages, a dream, focus and persistence enabled Friday’s keynote speaker to achieve his childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.
It took NASA Astronaut and retired Navy Capt. Michael J. Foreman eight tries to be accepted for test pilot training and in 1998, as an astronaut.
Foreman, originally of Wadsworth, Ohio, eventually flew in space twice to the International Space Station — March 11-26, 2008, and Nov. 16-29, 2009. He has logged more than 637 hours in space, including 32 hours and 19 minutes on five spacewalks.
“When you blast off, you forget all the rejections. It’s a fantastic ride,” he said.
Currently, Foreman is assigned to the Exploration Branch of the Astronaut Office, working on the Commercial Crew Development Program.
Commenting later about the partnership of ONE Health and the Mahoning County Mental Health Board, Ronald Marian, mental health board executive director, said, “This initiative puts our two systems at the forefront of innovation, and the people of Mahoning County will be better served by the effort of Dr. Ronald Dwinnells and his staff.”
“I’m excited about it. It’s one of the best things I’ve been involved in my 38 years with the mental health board,” he said.
ONE Health Ohio has made a difference for many people in the Mahoning Valley over the last quarter of a century, said Dr. Dwinnells.
During the 25 years, the organization has brought more than $26 million in federal grants to the community, spent and infused more than $57 million into the local economy, and provided medical and dental care to 215,465 patients who made 663,830 visits to the clinics. More than 50 percent of the patients were medically uninsured, Dr. Dwinnells said.
ONE Health Ohio operates nine facilities, including medical and dental van services in Mahoning, Trumbull and Stark counties, which have drawn patients from 14 surrounding counties, including many from Pennsylvania, he said.
Now, he said, there is an exciting future of integrative health-care services with medical, dental and behavioral health services all under one roof.
“This initiative of a federally qualified health center and local behavioral-health services agency becoming partners, will be the only one of its kind in Ohio, and is one of the few in the country,” Dr. Dwinnells said.
“It only makes sense since the lower socio-economic groups of citizens have the highest addiction and mental health problems. These folks do not readily seek primary medical or dental health care and thus also have higher mortality and morbidity rates. So, by having everything under one roof, there can be easy cross-referrals to improve access to care,” he said.
ONE Health Ohio has more such collaborations in the works.
Dr. Dwinnells said discussions about collaborative strategies with Neil Kennedy Recovery, D&E Counseling Services, Help Hotline Crisis Center, and Compass Family and Community Services have taken place over the last year.