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Partnership To Improve Behavioral Health And Substance Abuse Services


Published on Aug 11, 2020


Bartow, FL (Aug. 10, 2020) - Behavioral health and substance abuse issues in Polk County are getting the attention they deserve through a public-private partnership that seeks to develop a strategic plan. The goal is to create a comprehensive behavioral health strategic plan for mental health and substance abuse services.

Crescendo Consulting Group was hired to complete a resource map, gap analysis, and suggest implementation strategies to address any shortfalls or service gaps. The project completion target is December 2020 with a formal presentation to county-wide stakeholders in early 2021.

The total cost of the project is not to exceed $50,000. The Citizens Healthcare Oversight Committee members and the Polk County Board of County Commissioners unanimously agreed to fund up to $45,000 of the cost of this project from the Indigent Health Care Fund.

“Behavioral health has always been in the top three list of priorities in the community health needs assessments,” said Joy Johnson, Polk County health and human services relations administrator. “Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we align our resources as a community and develop an action plan to address service gaps and prepare to be responsive in this ever-changing environment.”

Other key stakeholders making financial commitments to the project include Lakeland Regional Health, BayCare, AdventHealth, and Central Florida Health Care.

“Prior to COVID-19, the Polk Vision Behavioral Health Team identified the need for a comprehensive behavioral health strategic plan for mental health and substance abuse services. The pandemic and associated challenges such as job loss, fear of disease, and other uncertainties have raised these needs to another level,” said Kim Long, the executive director of Polk Vision. “Concerns about a rise in domestic violence, substance abuse and suicides resulting from pandemic stressors will only increase the behavioral health needs of the residents of Polk County.”

During the coming months, community members will be invited to participate in dialogues and contribute information that will inform the strategic planning process.