Healthy Tahoe: Working together for community improvement

Chris Proctor

Every three years, the Community Health Needs Assessment identifies health concerns in our area, the top needs being mental health, substance use and access to care. These are concerns that persist in the Lake Tahoe community, as well as nationwide, and take collaboration to address.

Chris Proctor

Barton works cooperatively with regional health and social service providers to address and improve these health concerns. As next week is Community Health Improvement Week, it’s important to highlight the efforts put forth locally to help meet these needs.

Mental and behavioral health

Providing increased services for mental and behavioral health is a challenge nationwide, but locally, the Behavioral Health Network, an alliance of local social service providers, partnered with UniteUs to provide a referral platform to help patients in need of behavioral health services connect with care providers. In a similar approach, Barton began virtually connecting Medicare and Medicaid patients with local mental health providers through a $100,000 Health Net grant.

Through community outreach, including community wellness lectures, articles and videos, medical experts educate community members to recognize the signs, learn how and when to seek help, and understand how to reach out to others who might be experiencing a mental health crisis.

Additionally, the Barton Foundation has provided $100,000 in annual grant funding to support local organizations that help address health issues identified in the CHNA, including mental and behavioral health.

Substance use

In an effort to address the opioid crisis and help community members struggling with substance use, a medication-assisted treatment program was launched. MAT is the use of medication in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies, proven effective in the treatment of opioid use disorders, helping people begin and sustain recovery. Additionally, a new Substance Use Navigator position was funded to assist those in our community who present to the emergency department with substance use challenges.

Barton Foundation’s community grants funded two key projects: Parent Group Text Network – a text alert platform to help keep parents informed about local drug trends and use; along with Mountain High Recovery Center, which offers telehealth services to treat substance use disorders.

Additionally, preventative education for local students includes the annual Drug Store Project event educating sixth grade students on the risks of substance use.

Access to care

Barton continues to add needed medical services in our community, including psychiatry, audiology, rheumatology and ear, nose and throat. Additionally, a new Outpatient MRI clinic at the Stateline Medical Center campus now improves access to affordable imaging services at a convenient location.

For Spanish-speaking community members, bilingual enrollment counseling is available to navigate the registration process for the Covered California and Nevada HealthLink healthcare exchanges.

Community health and collaboration is foundational to Barton’s mission. We are stronger together, and we will continue our partnership efforts to serve this region and provide patients with the care they need.

Chris Proctor is director of community benefit with Barton Health. To learn more about Barton Health’s Community Health Needs Assessments, visit

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