Care Transformation Collaborative of Rhode Island Wins $600,000 Grant to Integrate Behavioral Health into RI Primary Care

by, Allison Dessert 

Today, the Care Transformation Collaborative of Rhode Island (CTC) announced the receipt of a $600,000 grant from the Rhode Island Foundation’s Fund for a Healthy Rhode Island to expand efforts to integrate behavioral health into the primary care setting.

The grant will fund a pilot program that places a behavioral health clinician onto the primary care teams at a total of 16 CTC practices throughout the state. Through this effort, CTC will work to identify more patients with behavioral health and substance-use disorders, increasing services to patients with moderate depression, anxiety, substance-use disorders and co-occurring chronic conditions; and reducing emergency room visits by providing care coordination and intervention for high-risk patients.

“Oftentimes, patients with unidentified behavioral health conditions experience safety risks, avoidable emergency department visits and hospitalizations, and hindrance to their quality of life. By adding a behavioral health clinician to the primary care team, we can move toward universal screening for depression, anxiety and substance use disorders, and offer more robust behavioral health services in a comfortable and accessible setting. This new care element gives our Collaborative momentum toward improving primary care and reducing health care costs for all Rhode Islanders,” said Debra Hurwitz, MBA, BSN, RN, Co-Director of CTC. “Thanks to the Rhode Island Foundation’s support, we now have the resources needed to truly integrate behavioral health into the primary care setting,”

It is widely recognized that unaddressed behavioral health conditions increase patient suffering and the total cost of care. CTC believes that building and supporting the delivery of integrated behavioral health is necessary to improve quality of life and decrease inefficient utilization of health care services and dollars.

The participating practices will be expected to participate in monthly on-site integrated behavioral health consultation services to improve the implementation of team based care for their patients. In addition, CTC will provide incentive payment to practices based on improved screening and patient outcomes.

“Behavioral health issues don’t discriminate, and now where people are treated for them doesn’t need to discriminate either,” said Nelly Burdette, PsyD, a CTC Integrated Behavioral Health Practice Facilitator and Director of Integrated Behavioral Health at Providence Community Health Centers. “Now, with universal screening in primary care, patients can get feedback about the most common behavioral health issues in the same setting where their diabetes, heart disease is treated.”

CTC was one of five initiatives supported by the Rhode Island Foundation’s Fund for a Healthy Rhode Island in 2015 to improve the quality and affordability of health care throughout the state.

About the Care Transformation Collaborative of Rhode Island

The Care Transformation Collaborative of Rhode Island (CTC), formerly the Rhode Island Chronic Care Sustainability Initiative, is working with all major health care stakeholders to transform primary care in Rhode Island. Co-convened by the Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, CTC promotes the patient-centered medical home, a model of primary care that is patient-focused, coordinated, accessible and team-based. The model focuses on prevention, wellness and appropriate treatment, which will lead to improved care, lower costs and better health outcomes for Rhode Island. For more information, visit

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