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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD received $836,243 from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) COVID-19 Telehealth Program to enhance its telehealth service infrastructure. The FCC received funding for this program through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also known as the CARES Act. The FCC funds will enable The Harris Center to further expand access to behavioral health and intellectual and developmental disabilities services for Harris County residents via telehealth platforms.
The Harris Center provided telehealth services long before the pandemic emergency hit the community through its Clinician Officer Remote Evaluation program, where licensed Harris Center clinicians assess individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to avoid psychiatric hospitalization or incarceration. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, The Harris Center has increased its telehealth capacity by 223 percent in just three months.
The Harris Center quickly adapted its service models to provide telehealth services to patients in their homes to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wayne Young, chief executive officer, addressed the need for swift service modifications stating, “One of the key goals of our strategic plan is to provide care without limitations and increase access to become the most innovative behavioral health system in the country. With the impact of COVID-19 and The Harris Center’s response to protect staff and the people we serve, it is fair to say this strategic initiative has taken a giant leap.”
The funds The Harris Center received from the FCC, through the CARES Act, will strengthen its ability to extend access to more Harris County residents in a way that does not put treatment team members or clients at risk during the pandemic. In addition, this technology will reach more people in need of behavioral health supports and decrease barriers to access behavioral health treatment such as a lack of transportation, child care or missed work.
“Telehealth has become an invaluable resource to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic, including those who need critical behavioral and mental health care,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “From the very beginning, the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program has supported mental health care providers’ efforts to incorporate remote counseling and telehealth for a variety of mental health needs into their care structure. Implementing remote mental health care services to treat patients from the comfort of their home will ensure critical care for Houston residents and their families.”
Mustafa Cochinwala, chief information officer, celebrated their efforts as they worked around the clock to boost the capacity of the organization’s information technology systems.
“In just two weeks, our team ordered laptops and tablets to provide rapid remote services,” Cochinwala said. “I am so proud of our team for adapting to the new systems and for all those who conducted trainings and provided technical support to ensure we can continue to provide services during these difficult times.”
The Harris Center is the state-designated Local Mental Health Authority and Local Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Authority serving Harris County, Texas. As the largest behavioral and developmental disability care center in Texas, The Harris Center provided care to over 79,000 people in fiscal year 2019. Learn more at TheHarrisCenter.org
As a response to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021, The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center) is collaborating with Harris County to lead a new community wellness and resiliency program to support communities in Harris County, Texas. Healthy Minds, Healthy Communities, a locally led mental wellness and resiliency initiative, will focus on ten Harris County zip codes (i.e.,77093, 77504, 77022, 77076, 77090, 77060, 77033, 77091, 77038, 77450) that underutilize traditional mental health care and have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 as well other public health issues, such as suicide. The program aims to leverage natural and existing social support systems to create a community-led network of emotional supports and assistance.
HOUSTON, TX (June 23, 2021) – Following a competitive national search, The Harris Center is pleased to announce Luming Li, M.D., M.H.S. as the organization’s new Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Li will officially join the organization on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD, in cooperation with Harris County Probate Court 3 and the University of Houston, has received a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration for an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program for people with serious mental illness.
HOUSTON, October 1, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic revealed the vulnerability of individuals who are homeless and have mental illnesses. It is not only the unhealthy conditions on the streets that make the unsheltered homeless “at-risk” to COVID-19; most suffer from underlying, chronic health conditions. An estimated 15-25% of individuals experiencing homelessness throughout Harris County and the greater Houston area suffer from severe mental health issues making it difficult for city, county and local partners to quickly assist and house them out of harm’s way. Social distancing requirements have also reduced homeless shelter capacity. These extremely acute individuals have a large impact on first responders and hospitals by routinely requiring emergency intervention. These individuals increase the risk of COVID-19 exposure to first responders and the community
August 17, 2021 - Holmusk, a leading global data science and health technology company building the world’s largest Real-World Evidence (RWE) platform for behavioral health, has signed data license agreements with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD (The Harris Center) in Harris County, Texas.
The Harris Center has partnered with Optum Integrated Behavioral Health Home to bring clients personalized care services. This cost-free service is designed to help clients reach health-related goals, providing access to health coaching, healthcare screenings, transportation to and from your scheduled healthcare visits and so much more. Our whole-person approach will help clients achieve positive outcomes in both their physical and mental health.
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The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD strives to provide high quality, efficient, and cost effective services so that persons with mental disabilities may live with dignity as fully functioning, participating, and contributing members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay based on a sliding scale rate schedule.
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