Providing good health care is about more than just treating a patient's physical ailments — many conditions also have a mental or emotional component as well.
Health Ministries Clinic Executive Director Matthew Schmidt believes a more holistic approach is the future of health care, and he's excited about Health Ministries' efforts to offer multiple services to patients, all during one appointment.
"An integrated model is more likely to achieve a better solution," he said during a presentation at Monday's Harvey County Commission meeting. "... This is one that works on a whole bunch of levels. It's better for our patients, it's better for our community, it's better for our providers. It just makes sense."
Health Ministries is a non-profit organization in Harvey County that provides medical care for low-income and medically under served patients. Services include dental and medical services for all ages.
Schmidt said in the past, health care has followed a format of multiple appointments for different health issues or referrals to other providers. His goal is to see multiple issues addressed during a single doctor's appointment, especially since many of those issues may be interrelated.
For example, a patient's depression could hamper his or her ability to manage a physical condition like diabetes. The patient needs treatment for both depression and diabetes in order to achieve optimum health.
He said awareness also is growing of the importance of lifestyle changes — such as eating better and exercising more — in a person's health care plan. Simply giving a person more medication isn't always the best solution.
Health Ministries' total operating budget is about $2.4 million, and Harvey County will contribute $40,000 in funding this year.
Schmidt said Health Ministries serves as an important "safety net" for the community, especially for those who may not be able to afford health care.
The 2012 Harvey County Community Health Assessment conducted by the Health Department revealed one in three people surveyed had skipped needed medical care in the past year due to cost.
About 63 percent of the patients served by Health Ministries have no form of insurance. In 2012, the organization served a total of 2,936 patients and logged 8,339 clinic visits.
John Waltner, county administrator, said he is pleased with the direction Health Ministries is heading.
"It's a very, very different organization," he said. "It's just exciting."