UPH Government & External Affairs

Top Iowa Human Services and Mental Health Leaders Visit UnityPoint Clinic Locations, Participate in Provider Roundtable

by | Jun 23, 2021

Images (left to right): Kelly Garcia, Director of the Iowa Department of Human Services and Interim Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health; Marissa Eyanson, Division Administrator of Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services – Community. Image Source: Iowa Department of Human Services website.

On Monday, June 21, Clay Holderman, UnityPoint Health President and CEO, the UnityPoint Health Government & External Affairs team and UnityPoint Clinic – Central Iowa hosted two of Iowa’s top state human services and mental health leaders for a site visit and roundtable discussion about innovative approaches to health care delivery for Iowans in the Medicaid program.

Kelly Garcia, Director of the Iowa Department of Human Services (Iowa DHS) and Interim Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH), Marissa Eyanson, Division Administrator of Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services (MHDS) – Community and Aza Adam, Assistant to Director Garcia, toured the UnityPoint Clinic® – Behavioral Health Urgent Care and UnityPoint Clinic® – Family Medicine – East Des Moines/La Clinica de la Esperanza (The Clinic of Hope) locations and had the opportunity to speak with physicians, providers, clinic administrators and staff to learn more about the unique care services offered by the clinics, including expanded access to mental health care services, primary care-behavioral health integration, maternal health care, and culturally-competent care for Spanish-speaking Latino and immigrant families.

As part of the tour of the East Des Moines/La Clinica de la Esperanza location, Director Garcia, Administrator Eyanson and Ms. Adam learned more about the clinic’s patient-centered medical home team approach to care. Julie Burkle, the clinic’s Community Health Worker, and Morgan Herring, clinic pharmacist, shared their work to help specific patients with social determinants of health needs, such as food insecurity, transportation, access to prescription medications, and medication management to help treat chronic health conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Dr. Joshua Rehmann and Dr. Alexandra Hubbell, clinic physicians and Program Director & Associate Program Director of the UnityPoint Health – Iowa Lutheran Family Medicine Residency Program, respectively, discussed the clinic’s comprehensive maternal health services focused on high-risk and late-to-care mothers and the need for the Iowa Medicaid program to cover types of prenatal screenings that can help with early identification and treatment of certain health conditions. Drs. Rehmann and Hubbell also discussed the clinic’s partnerships with local and state agencies like Polk County Public Health to offer specific health condition testing for specific patients, as well as innovative approaches to ensuring the needs of the clinic’s diverse patient population are met – including a recent telehealth visit with a patient who had traveled home to Africa.

 Dan Harkness, PhD, the clinic’s behavioral health consultant, shared the importance of offering behavioral health services in the primary care clinic as a means to increase access for patients,  providing support to clinic physicians and providers to help immediately address patients’ behavioral health needs and improve individual patient outcomes and care goals.

“The site visit offered us the opportunity to showcase our patient-center medical home and how we are helping our patients live a healthy life,” said Anesa Buchanan, Senior Clinic Administrator of UnityPoint Clinic – Family Medicine – East Des Moines/La Clinica. “We appreciated Director Garcia and Administrator Eyanson’s questions about our clinic’s partnership with the state’s Medicaid care managers and our shared interest in expanding support for mental and maternal health services for Medicaid patients. I’m excited to continue our work with the DHS, IDPH and MHDS to meet the needs of our patients.”

The UnityPoint Clinic – Behavioral Health Urgent Care clinical and administrative team, including Jennifer Blume, ARNP, psychiatric nurse practitioner; Kevin Carroll, EdD, Vice President of Behavioral Health Services for UnityPoint Health – Des Moines; and Chantel Freetly, Clinic Administrator for the clinic, showcased the location’s approach to providing behavioral health screenings and interventions for children, adults and older adults. Opened in early 2020 as a new service to address the need for greater access to behavioral health care services in Central Iowa, the location includes trained mental health providers who are located onsite as well as through telehealth technology. “Our clinic is truly unique to our community, not only in offering more immediate access a mental health professional, but that we have staff onsite from UnityPoint Health – Eyerly Ball Community Mental Health Services and Orchard Place Child Guidance Center who assist patients with connecting to additional services and resources in the community,” said Chantel Freetly.

The visit concluded with a roundtable discussion about the clinics’ focus on supporting the health care needs of Iowa Medicaid patients and suggestions for further collaboration between the Iowa DHS, IDPH, MHDS and UnityPoint Health. Director Garcia and Administrator Eyanson expressed their appreciation to the clinic teams for redesigning current and developing new types of services and care models to meet the needs of patients and asked the group to provide input for needed policy changes at the state level.

Image: Clay Holderman, President & CEO of UnityPoint Health (far right), highlights UnityPoint Health’s commitment to the Iowa Medicaid program, through providing care to Medicaid patients in all 99 Iowa counties.

“As a nonprofit health system, we are proud to be one of the largest providers of health care services in the Iowa Medicaid program,” said Clay Holderman, President and CEO of UnityPoint Health. “We are thankful for the continued support of our state agencies, and for their recognition of the incredible work of our physicians, providers and team members in the unique ways we are expanding access to care.”


For more information on State of Iowa advocacy, legislative, policy and regulatory issues of impact to UnityPoint Health, please contact Ashley Thompson, director of government & external affairs for UnityPoint Health.