Integration of behavior health

Dr. Emily Ptaszek Dr. Emily Ptaszek knows first-hand the emotional and physical result of mental issues gone unaddressed. She has worked with children and adults in private practice and for the US Department of Veterans Affairs, specializing in posttraumatic stress disorder.

Today, as Director of Behavioral Health at Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida, Dr. Ptaszek is focused on early intervention through an innovative holistic healthcare approach that addresses both body and mind. Like all Healthcare Network services, this care is accessible to all regardless of ability to pay.

“One of the many things that attracted me to this organization was the fact that the integration of behavioral health into pediatrics and primary care is seen as a necessity, not as an option,” she says. “People who need services the most, those who historically have been without help, are too often lost in the shuffle of a confusing and intimidating healthcare system. As a community, we can no longer afford to allow that to happen.”

As more physicians choose not to accept Medicaid or uninsured patients, Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida has a 37-year history of caring for those patients, offering an alternative to the more expensive and often inappropriate emergency room. If more people have access to care, we all benefit from a healthier community.

To that end, Healthcare Network has served more than 45,000 people annually (32,000 of them children) at 13 locations throughout Collier County, including East Naples, Golden Gate, North Naples, Marco Island and Immokalee.

While most parents are quick to recognize a cold or fever, Dr. Ptaszek says they are less likely to identify underlying emotional / behavioral issues that may significantly affect their child’s physical health. This is especially true for low-income families with little access to qualified mental health providers.

To address these gaps in service, Healthcare Network has partnered with Florida State University College of Medicine, David Lawrence Center, National Alliance of Mental Illness of Collier County and Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF) to establish a cutting edge, integrated pediatric health initiative.

Under this partnership, Dr. Ptaszek oversees program development and clinical practices and FSU postdoctoral fellows provide clinical care at each of Healthcare Network’s five pediatric offices. When the primary care doctor perceives a need, the patient receives same-day or ongoing behavioral health services at the same location – a significant benefit for underserved families.

This innovative approach to behavioral care has already made a significant difference, according to Healthcare Network pediatric providers.

“The addition of Dr. Ptaszek and behavioral health to our organization has been a game changer,” says Dr. Camina, Healthcare Network’s Chief of Pediatrics, “We are now able to work together from both a physical and mental aspect to provide a service that our patients desperately need.”

Such advancements in pediatric healthcare would not be possible without the generous support of organizations and individuals who share Dr. Ptaszek’s vision of a healthier community for all. For more information on how you can help, call Stephen Wheeler, Vice President of Development, at 239-658-3111 or email SWheeler@healthcareswfl.org.

Address: PO Box 877, Immokalee, FL 34143 Mission: The mission of the Healthcare Network of Southwest Florida is to provide quality healthcare accessible to everyone in our community. Website: www.healthcareswfl.org