By Alana Prisco
We often think about our health in terms of how our bodies look and feel. But our psychological and emotional health is equally important, and has a big impact on the quality of our physical health. Good medical care focuses on total health, including one’s mind and body, and the important connections between the two entities.
“A focus on total health starts at the primary care level. It’s important to be vigilant about screening for and identifying mental health conditions, such as depression, as early as possible,” says James Parks, M.D., chief of behavioral health and psychiatry at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles.
Understanding the important link between mental health and primary care, Kaiser Permanente is expanding its mental health care services to serve its growing membership in California. The organization has hired more than 600 mental health therapists since 2011 and has invested more than $115 million to refresh and remodel at least 76 of its existing mental health facilities in the state.
That growth is happening locally as well. In addition to Kaiser Permanente’s newest medical offices on Tenth Street and Broadway in Santa Monica, where primary care, pediatrics and a few rotating specialties are offered, Kaiser Permanente will open its first-ever behavioral health offices in Santa Monica in January of 2018. The offices will be located at 2730 Wilshire Boulevard, on the corner of Harvard Street and Wilshire Boulevard.
Upon opening, there will be four clinical providers at this office, who will provide individual therapy and medication management to adults, adolescents and children.
“There is a growing demand for accessible mental health care services and we are committed to bringing our expertise in this field to the Santa Monica community,” says Georgina Garcia, senior vice president and area manager of Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles. “Our unique integrated system encourages collaboration between mental health and primary care, which allows us to assess and provide treatment more efficiently.”
The new Santa Monica office will offer telemedicine, which will allow patients to connect with clinicians via video visits through their smart phones, laptops and other devices from any location, an increasingly popular option for patients with busy schedules, mobility issues or simply for those who prefer the convenience of receiving care when and where they want it.
Telemedicine is just one of many innovative offerings within the Psychiatry Department at Kaiser Permanente. “We are also using new tools and evidence-based approaches to assess patients’ progress and improvement rate at every touch point so that we can tailor our treatments to their needs more effectively,” Parks says.
For more information on our medical offices in Santa Monica, visit tinyurl.com/kaisersm. For more information on Kaiser Permanente’s mental health services, visit tinyurl.com/kaisermh.