Many individuals who seek behavioral health care from Connections for conditions such as opioid dependence or serious and persistent mental health problems tell us that they have not received primary medical or dental care for years. Sadly, many of them are exposed and vulnerable to life-threatening conditions, and live an average of 20 years less than people in the general populations. While dental health is an important component of physical health, the people we serve often lack both the resources and the motivation to seek dental care.
Connections is also the provider of medical, dental and behavioral health services in all of Delaware’s prisons and jails. We are concerned about the need for people who are returning home after incarceration to have access to these critical services , because research shows that receiving health care and having health insurance both reduce recidivism.
In order to address these issues, we have taken some bold initiatives, including the purchase of a mobile dental van that opened in March 2016 and can provide dental services anywhere in Delaware; the addition of primary care to our mental health and substance abuse programs; and an aggressive effort to help re-entering offenders and all people who seek treatment from us to apply for Medicaid. We are also working to increase health care access for residents of Kent and Sussex Counties, which are designated as health profession shortage areas. Through our health care expansion initiative, we are focusing on providing integrated primary medical care, mobile dental care, psychiatry, mental health and family therapy, treatment for alcohol abuse, and medication-assisted treatment for opioid dependence at our service centers in Harrington, Seaford, and Millsboro. Some of these communities — such as Harrington, where we provide essential services — have no primary care physicians, dentists, or psychiatrists.