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VNA Awarded $95,000 Shelter Nursing Grant

July 14, 2020 | VNA Staff | Press Releases

Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) has been awarded a $95,000 grant from UnitedHealthcare for their Shelter Nursing Program, which provides VNA public health nursing services in local homeless and domestic violence shelters. The grant will be used to fill behavioral health prescriptions for clients with mental health needs while VNA nurses and case managers help them transition to a stable medical home to treat ongoing needs at no cost to clients.

“The need for mental health medication continues to increase, and the COVID-19 pandemic has created more obstacles between people and the care they need to live their best life,” said James Summerfelt, VNA President and CEO. “VNA is committed to ensuring everyone gets the care they deserve.”

Federally qualified health centers and retail pharmacies near each homeless shelter will collaborate with VNA’s pharmacy to fulfill prescriptions. VNA’s pharmacy will provide consultation to establish consistent price points between the organizations.

According to Magellan Health Services, mental health drugs represent one of the fastest growing cost categories in outpatient managed healthcare. Medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers now account for up to 25 percent of all pharmacy spending by commercial health insurers and 30 percent to 35 percent of all pharmacy spending by public payers. Mental health outpatient drug costs have risen roughly 20 percent each of the past 5 years for which national data are available (1996-2001).

To receive stopgap funding:

  • Clients must be receiving assistance from a VNA shelter nurse while residing at a local homeless or domestic violence shelter
  • Clients must have a valid prescription for behavioral health medication
  • A VNA nurse must recommend the client and help him/her complete a short application
  • If the cost to provide stopgap medication for an individual prescription is extreme, VNA’s pharmacy will consult with the client’s medical provider to explore alternatives.

The VNA Shelter Nursing Program was instituted in 1987 and has remained the exclusive, local provider of public health nurse services in homeless shelters for 33 years. The program’s registered nurses all have long tenure, and the program has a strong presence within the local continuum of care for homeless people.

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