UW Nursing Professor Receives Nearly $1 Million Grant for Integrated Primary Care Initiative

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Sarah Kooienga

Sarah Kooienga, an assistant professor of nursing in the University of Wyoming’s Fay W. Whitney School of Nursing, has received a nearly $1 million, two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Agency.

The $998,332 grant will be used to develop an integrated behavioral health primary care initiative at the Family Medicine Residency Program at Cheyenne. The award is part of HRSA’s Nurse Education Practice Quality and Retention Collaborative Practice-Behavioral Health Integration initiative.

Through a collaborative effort among Kooienga, Julian Good, a psych mental health nurse practitioner with Peak Wellness Center in Cheyenne; and the UW Family Nursing Practice-Family Medicine Residency Program at Cheyenne, the Behavioral Health Integration project will provide needed primary care clinical experiences for Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students and other health care professional students. Wyoming has a significant shortage of behavioral health providers.

By providing an innovative model -- which integrates behavioral health services into primary care -- this model can be replicated across the state and potentially strengthen primary care and behavioral health care for all Wyoming residents.

The HRSA grant will fund the hiring of a registered nurse (RN) case manager/coordinator to strengthen primary care and behavioral health integration. Having additional behavioral health providers onsite and greater coordination of services to outside providers will address the unmet behavioral health needs of patients currently receiving services through the Family Medicine Residency. 

At a time when rising health care costs create a substantial barrier to accessing care, the Behavioral Health Integration project will work collaboratively within the community of Cheyenne to identify patients requiring a higher level of care coordination and ensure they are able to access services at an affordable cost.

Kooienga, the grant’s primary investigator, believes the new RN position created through this grant will serve as a model for stronger RN roles in primary care.

“Having an RN care coordinator can increase services, provide greater continuity of care, decrease costs, and improve overall patient and families’ quality of life,” she says.

For more information about this grant, email Kooienga at skooieng@uwyo.edu.



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