Sunday, April 5th, 2020

Zay meets with Bowen Center leadership team

Posted: Friday, February 28, 2020

Bowen Center hosted a visit by Indiana State Senator Andy Zay (R-17th District) at its Huntington office. He met with some members of the Bowen Center leadership team to learn more about efforts being made to address the opioid epidemic, mental health services, family preservation and integrated healthcare. He offered some of the initiatives he is spearheading at the statehouse to assist in those areas.

“When I was elected, I stepped into the opioid crisis. It’s very difficult to walk into that and not be engaged,” said Senator Zay.

As a result, the Senator has sponsored Drug Summits in his district to both hear from and educate his constituents about substance use disorder and its treatment and prevention. Bowen Center has actively participated in those summits.

“There is a lot of work being done and counties are sharing successful approaches. For example, I’m fired up about the work being done in Whitley County jails. It is a template for the state, and I will shout it from the rooftops down in Indy. We need to invest in those coming out of jail and work release and provide them with the resources they need,” said Senator Zay.

Currently Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) which helps people understand how their choices and attitudes can influence the success of their recovery from substance use and can decrease recidivism, one-on-one and group therapy, and Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) therapy is made available to inmates in Whitley County.

“We need to invest in those coming out of jail and work release and provide them with the resources they need,” said Senator Zay.

“The best approach would be to start the Medicaid application process while they are incarcerated so that when they are released, they can quickly be insured,” said Rob Ryan, Bowen Center senior president of operations. “With a warm hand-off to agencies such as Bowen Center upon their release, we can provide on-going mental health services and assist with access to medication, housing, transportation, job placement, helping families communicate with the Department of Child Services (DCS) and more. That continuation of care after they leave jail will greatly reduce recidivism,” said Ryan.

“That would be a big step forward. I would support a program that gets inmates covered before they leave jail,” said Senator Zay.

A new bill (SB 142) authored by State Senator Zay and passed by the Senate is currently in the House of Representatives for further consideration and would allow Indiana to potentially receive millions of federal dollars for schools by allowing them to claim Medicaid reimbursements for services being provided to qualifying students with Individualized Education Programs (IEP) and special education services.

“Our schools are already providing many of these in-house services and footing the bill for it. The funds from Medicaid reimbursements could be used to support existing services,” said Senator Zay.

“Going through the Medicaid process is dauting and Bowen Center is more than happy to assist schools in registering for it. That will allow them to better help their students and families. It’s a win for the schools, a win for the families and a win for our communities,” said Ryan.

“We appreciate the legislation you have passed to support mental health care in the state,” said Bowen Center president and CEO, Kurt Carlson. “We’re in the schools in 28 Indiana counties now and growing. The ability to provide services to Medicaid eligible students and in turn their families, provides them with better opportunities and outcomes and helps keep families together. We have celebrated the reunification of 100 DCS families in the last few months and that’s important. Our goal is to meet people where they are in the community,” Carlson concluded.

“That’s why we like to imagine what could be accomplished if Bowen Center had health clinics inside the schools to provide not only mental, emotional and behavioral health support to students and their families but also, primary care, providing preventative health services like immunizations, and to catch issues before they become severe and an ER visit is required,” said Ryan.

“I would like to further discuss this idea of health clinics in schools. We need to be visionary and bold and Bowen Center has the holistic approach that will be a driver in the state," said Senator Zay.

Shown in the photo, from left, are Rob Ryan, Bowen Center senior vice president of operations; Katie Shomo, director, Bowen Center Grant, Howard and Tipton Counties; Shelly Snyder, director, Bowen Center, Huntington; Kurt Carlson, president and CEO, Bowen Center and Indiana State Senator, Andy Zay.