Collaborative approach brings mental health and primary care services to homeless population

Indianapolis, June 18, 2014 – Today, Eskenazi Health and Horizon House announced the opening of a new health center aimed at meeting the health care needs of individuals experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. 

Eskenazi Health Pedigo at Horizon House officially opened its doors at a special gathering Wednesday evening, June 18. Joining the crowd of dignitaries was Indianapolis Mayor Gregory Ballard. The new facility is believed to be the first of its kind in Indiana, and one of only a few nationally, that brings both mental health and primary care services together at a day center that serves the homeless population.

“The Eskenazi Health Pedigo health center is the key to providing a holistic approach for our homeless neighbors,” said Buddy Faulkner, Horizon House board president. “From street outreach to medical and mental health services, Horizon House is able to provide the needed care to assist our neighbors and give them hope on their journey to gaining sustainability. We are grateful for the partnership with Eskenazi Health.”

Horizon House is a full-service agency that connects homeless neighbors with integrated, comprehensive services from basic engagement and case management to employment training, outreach and in-house collaborative services, including legal assistance and health care and mental health care. The opening of Eskenazi Health Pedigo at Horizon House expands the mental health and primary care health services offered at Horizon House into one full-service health center. The center is led by Dr. Aaron Kalinowski, chief physician executive at Eskenazi Health Pedigo.

"People experiencing homelessness are far more likely than others to have both mental health and physical health problems. Integrating primary and behavioral health care, as Eskenazi Health is doing in its expanded Horizon House location, is crucial for resolving these complex situations,” John Lozier, executive director of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. “Congratulations to Eskenazi Health Pedigo, Horizon House and Marion County for implementing this best practice in the struggle to end homelessness."

The expansion of the health center more than triples the center’s space. In the past, mental health and primary care services were run separately at Horizon House.

“Eskenazi Health has a long history of responding to the needs of our community’s most vulnerable and underserved residents.  And, as a level 1 trauma center and regional burn center, when individuals are seriously-injured or critically-ill, we know what to do.  However, we also know that our biggest opportunity to improve the health of our patients and the vitality of our community is to work to do everything we can to help people stay well in the first place,” said Dr. Lisa Harris, chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health. “Focusing on prevention, early intervention and effective chronic disease management through community-based primary care medical homes delivering the full range of primary care services as well as mental health care, all in an effort to reduce the burden of illness on the patient and our community, are the key elements of our model of care."

Eskenazi Health Midtown Community Mental Health was established in 1969 as the first mental health center in Indiana and offers an array of mental health services including severe mental illness and substance abuse treatment, 24-hour emergency services, a detoxification unit, full continuum for chronically addicted patients, specialized home- and community-based programs for seriously emotionally disturbed children and adolescents, and a partial-hospitalization program.  

“The integration of primary care and mental health care represents a best practice in community-based care,” said Margie Payne, chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health Midtown and vice president of mental health operations for Eskenazi Health. “At Eskenazi Health Midtown we provide care to all, including early prevention and intervention services directly where patients live.”

Contributions for the new center were received from United Way of Central Indiana, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Herbert Simon Family Foundation and others. In-kind donations were also received from Cripe Architects and Keystone Construction. 

Eskenazi Health Pedigo’s mission is to provide collaborative, comprehensive and compassionate health care to those experiencing homelessness in Marion County. The center is named after Betty Pedigo who helped to establish a clinic for homeless individuals within Horizon House after her retirement from a long and distinguished career at Eskenazi Health. After her retirement in December 2012, Eskenazi Health Midtown and Eskenazi Health staff unanimously decided to rename the health center in her honor.


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