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Burrell Behavioral Health and the Fordland Clinic have officially executed an agreement to form a first-of-its-kind affiliation between behavioral-health and primary-care providers in southwest Missouri.

The joining of Burrell and the Fordland Clinic follows a period of due diligence after the two not-for-profit 501(c)3 organizations signed a letter of intent to affiliate this spring.

While Burrell specializes in behavioral-health and addiction-recovery services, the Fordland Clinic specializes in primary and dental care. The organizations serve many of the same individuals in Webster, Stone, Greene, Christian and Taney counties, and this partnership will dramatically increase the capacity of both to offer a full continuum of care, particularly in rural and underserved communities.

The strategic affiliation allows Burrell to begin offering primary care in Springfield while allowing the Fordland Clinic to expand its behavioral-health services by integrating with Burrell at its current clinics in Webster County (Fordland Clinic) and Stone County (Kimberling City, Tri-Lakes Community Health Center). Current U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) guidelines would allow the Fordland Clinic to begin providing primary-care services at Burrell’s main center location on East Bradford Parkway in Springfield, with additional locations coming online as approved.

Under the agreement, Burrell and the Fordland Clinic would remain autonomous and retain their own boards of directors. Fordland Clinic Executive Director Joan Twiton will serve a dual role as Burrell’s president of community health centers.

Missouri is one of eight states that participated in a three-year exploratory phase of the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) program, which was established in 2016 by the Excellence in Mental Health Act, sponsored in the U.S. Senate by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri). Under this innovative funding model, Community Mental Health Centers like Burrell are reimbursed in a cost-based system, similar to Federally Qualified Health Clinics like the Fordland Clinic. Because of these new synergies, Burrell now has the resources — and, with this affiliation with Fordland Clinic, the partner — to begin incorporating basic medical and dental services into its continuum of care, with the end goal of better treatment for the whole person, the very first time he or she walks through the door.

“This partnership is truly a glimpse into the future of healthcare,” Burrell President and CEO Dr. C.J. Davis said.

“Mental health is physical health, and through this affiliation both Burrell and the Fordland Clinic will be able to provide top-of-the-line care in all fields for the people who walk through our doors.”

For the Fordland Clinic, the affiliation brings Burrell’s deep experience in outpatient therapy, psychiatry and substance-use treatment directly into its clinics in Fordland and Kimberling City.

“The effects of depression, anxiety and substance use on our patients’ health is a major factor in their symptoms and how we treat them, and more than half of Burrell clients do not have an established primary care provider,” Twiton said.

“By offering all our individual expert services under one roof, we can meet multiple patient needs in a single visit without the need for long or multiple drives, which is a huge barrier to care in many of the communities we serve.”

“Our patients deserve the best in primary, dental and behavioral healthcare,” Fordland Clinic Board President William Gdanitz said. “We believe they will benefit greatly through this partnership, and we couldn’t be more excited to get started.”

Established in 1996, the Fordland Clinic is a non-profit community health center offering family practice, dental and mental-health services with a focus on prevention. Locations in Fordland and Kimberling City employ doctors, nurse practitioners,  dental hygienists and behavioral-health counselors.

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