Issac and Taylor are nine year old twins who love trains. They also struggle daily with the challenge of autism. When their mom Antoni was first referred to the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida for school physicals, she was delighted to learn the Network offers integrated behavioral care tailored to meet the needs of her sons.
This innovative holistic approach to healthcare is led by Healthcare Network Director of Behavioral Health Dr. Emily Ptaszek. Like all Healthcare Network services, this care is accessible to all regardless of ability to pay.
“One of the many things that attracted me to this organization was the fact that the integration of behavioral health into pediatrics and primary care is seen as a necessity, not as an option,” she says. “People who need services the most, those who historically have been without help, are too often lost in the shuffle of a confusing and intimidating healthcare system. As a community, we can no longer afford to allow that to happen.”
As more physicians choose not to accept Medicaid or uninsured patients, Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida has a 37-year history of caring for those patients, offering an alternative to the more expensive and often inappropriate emergency room. If more people have access to care, we all benefit from a healthier community.
While most parents are quick to recognize a cold or fever, Dr. Ptaszek says they are less likely to identify underlying emotional / behavioral issues that may significantly affect their child’s physical health. This is especially true for low-income families with little access to qualified mental health providers.
To address these gaps in service, Healthcare Network has partnered with Florida State University College of Medicine, David Lawrence Center, National Alliance of Mental Illness of Collier County and Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) to establish a cutting edge, integrated pediatric health initiative.
Under this partnership, FSU postdoctoral fellows provide clinical care at each of Healthcare Network’s five pediatric offices. When the primary care doctor perceives a need, the patient receives same-day or ongoing behavioral health services at the same location – a significant benefit for underserved families.
Such advancements in pediatric healthcare would not be possible without the generous support of organizations and individuals who share Dr. Ptaszek’s vision of a healthier community for all. For more information on how you can help, call Stephen Wheeler, Vice President of Development, at 239.658.3111239.658.3111 or email SWheeler@healthcareswfl.org.