UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health's Carr Mill Clinic adds primary care physician to its staff

Rupal Yu, MD, MPH, a family physician at Piedmont Health Services, and adjunct instructor at UNC Family Medicine, now provides primary care services for center patients.

As part of collaboration with Piedmont Health Services (PHS) and UNC Family Medicine, the UNC Center for Excellence in Community Mental Health has recently added a primary care physician to its Carr Mill Clinic staff in Carrboro.  Rupal Yu, MD, MPH, a family physician at Piedmont Health Services, and adjunct instructor at UNC Family Medicine, provides primary care services for Center patients. The program is funded by a 2011 grant from The Duke Endowment.

The integration of behavioral (mental) and physical health care has been recognized at national and state levels as a way to achieve better outcomes and quality of life for persons with severe mental illness as well as lower the cost of their overall health care.  Individuals with severe mental illness die earlier than other adults, primarily because of a co-existing chronic medical illness such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or cancer.

“Formation of the primary care clinic has been a team effort.  We’ve had a great deal of engagement from our patients and providers,” says Robin Reed, MD, MPH, assistant professor of psychiatry, director of Integrated Care at the Center.  “We are very lucky to have Dr. Yu as our lead primary care provider.”

 The Center’s mental health clinic already incorporates routine monitoring of weight and blood pressure, antipsychotic monitoring, and referral to specialty or primary care providers, but follow-up for physical health care needs can be complex for the patient."

“Having a provider on site and services available immediately makes a difference in the patient following up on their medical needs, “continues Reed. “Patients find it easier to follow-through immediately with their medical care when both services are available in the same location.

The initial impact has been positive.

“To date, we have successfully been able to provide preventive care screenings such as pap smears, referrals for mammograms and have treated chronic conditions such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and tobacco use, as well as managed acute issues such as dysuria, musculoskeletal pain, or cough,” says Yu.

“Communication with mental health providers and other members of the behavioral care team is seamless, as we are often working side by side,” continues Yu.