a monthly newsletter from Integral Care

March: Making Opportunities for Recovery More Accessible


A Message From Our Board Chair


Travis County’s robust economy has not come without its challenges. Our recent growth is greater than nearly any other large metro area in the country, and our human services infrastructure must innovate to keep pace. Of particular priority is increasing accessible and affordable treatment for substance use disorder in our community.


In general, funding for substance use treatment services is lacking. For the Travis County community, service availability has decreased in recent years due to funding issues. For those who cannot afford the high cost of private pay services and medication, this results in waitlists for services, and limited access to medications. To complicate this further, individuals are often dealing with more than just a substance use disorder diagnosis.


Forty-five percent of people with a substance use disorder have a co-occurring mental illness. Current regulations make coordination and integration of care challenging. That is beginning to change through the establishment of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, supported by both the federal government and state of Texas. This model promotes full integration of primary, mental health and substance use disorder services. Additionally, the Texas Statewide Behavioral Health Strategic Plan recognizes the need for better integration of services.


To ensure members of our community have access to a coordinated, effective system of care that supports opportunities for recovery, Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt recently initiated a process to consider establishing a Local Behavioral Health Authority (LBHA). Travis County currently does not have an entity designated with responsibility for substance use disorder planning and coordination of our limited resources. An LBHA would:


  • Ensure people who need services can exercise consumer choice by helping them decide on their services, service provider and location of services.
  • Ensure the best use of public money to create a network of service providers and determine whether to provide a service or to contract that service to another organization.
  • Make recommendations on the most appropriate services available to people who need them.


The issue of substance use disorder often crosses multiple systems, like justice and public safety, emergency response, public health, and homeless services. An LBHA can bring a stronger, more effective response to substance use disorder in our community by centralizing coordination and planning. It would allow a fixed point of accountability with responsibility for evaluating the community’s needs and leveraging funds. This would support a more focused effort – which could incorporate local planning bodies, community forums and other initiatives – to make opportunities for recovery more accessible for our community members. With this effort, the challenges that have come with a robust economy and growth can be tackled head-on, and healthy living can be accessible to everyone.


Hal Katz
Board Chair

Program Highlight

New Program to Bolster Community-Based Substance Use Disorder Services


Several program team members: Dr. John Nguyen, Matthew Lovitt, Will Terry, and Jena Simon (L to R)

A person is ready to get help for their substance use disorder. Then what? Navigating available substance use disorders services and treatment can be overwhelming. Making sure a person gets connected to the care that best fits their need and interest – medication, intensive outpatient, inpatient residential – is one challenge. Challenge #2 – the gap between the moment a person recognizes they need and want treatment and when that treatment can be initiated. Integral Care hopes to help with both the navigation of available services in our community as well as filling the transitional gap with the launch of a new program – a substance use disorder hub.


When Addiction Psychiatrist John Nguyen started as Integral Care’s Associate Medical Director, he saw the array of substance use treatment services we offered. He also recognized that many clients had difficulty understanding how to access those services, partly due to fragmented funding sources, regulatory requirements that unintentionally create silos between programs, and multiple paths to gain entry that caused confusion among clients and staff alike. So, Dr. Nguyen set about to solve the problem.


“The goal of the hub is to streamline access to substance use treatment in a more expedited, integrated, and patient-centered way – with the idea that a single point of entry will allow coordination and access to the variety of programs that are needed to help that individual.”

– Dr. John Nguyen


Set to open in the summer of 2019 for community and external referrals, the program will be co-located with Integral Care’s Psychiatric Emergency Services. Staff will include a program manager, 2 licensed practitioners of the healing arts, 2 peer specialists and a physician’s assistant. While not a treatment program, the program will strive to:


  • Promote integrated treatment for individuals who experience both a substance use disorder and mental illness.
  • Improve linkage to services and coordination across Integral Care and substance use treatment providers in the community.
  • Provide short-term, transitional support – counseling, support groups and peer support – in the interim period before a person begins their chosen treatment program at either Integral Care or elsewhere in the community.


This program recognizes the intersection of multiple health conditions. It will strengthen our ability to connect everyone in our community to services they need to build health and well-being.

Partner Highlight

Austin Recovery


For the past 52 years, Austin Recovery has served adult men, women and parents with small children throughout our community, accepting insurance and private pay clients. They recognize that the cost of treatment is the largest barrier to people getting the help they need. Austin Recovery remains committed to providing both inpatient residential and outpatient treatment for individuals with Medicaid or without insurance and no ability to pay. They are one of only two facilities in Travis County offering that crucial service to our community.


“Many times people with a severe substance use disorder assess clinically for a residential level of care, yet do not have the means. We feel strongly about equitable access to quality care. Best practices show that a 90-day residential treatment stay is often what’s called for to heal the brain, it’s considered the gold standard for people who have money to spend. At Austin Recovery we feel that anyone with the brain disorder of addiction should have access to the same level of care.”

– Laura Sovine, LMSW-AP, Executive Director


In addition to 30 and 90-day residential treatment, Austin Recovery provides intensive outpatient treatment and supportive outpatient programs at both Community First! Village and People’s Community Clinic. Their Family House program provides 90-day residential treatment for pregnant women and women with young children. The program includes recovery curriculum, parenting skills and child bonding, with a full time daycare onsite. This exceptional program is the only one of its kind in central Texas.


Each year, their programs help more than 1,000 people on their journey to recovery. In 2018, 75% of clients received some form of financial assistance. Austin Recovery plans to add detox beds to their residential treatment facility this spring. With Medicaid reimbursement rates covering only 20% of the cost of detox services, they are currently facilitating a big fundraising push to fulfill the objective.


Integral Care proudly supports Austin Recovery’s mission – to make quality substance use disorder treatment financially accessible for everyone.


February 2019: Recovery is Possible

January 2019: Stronger Outcomes Through Collaboration

December 2018: Looking ahead to the 86th Texas Legislature

November 2018: How Tech is Changing the Face of Mental Health

October 2018: A Few Questions Could Help Save a Life

September 2018: Anyone Can Save a Life

August 2018: A Milestone Moment

July 2018: Equity in Mental Health Care for All

June 2018: Expanding Services for Veterans

May 2018: Your Mental Health Toolkit

April 2018: Time of Terror Calls for Increased Emotional Support

March 2018: Stopping the cycle of incarceration for individuals with mental illness

February 2018: Equity in mental healthcare for everyone

January 2018 : Improving Mental Health Through Partnership & Collaboration

December 2017: Strength Through Community

November 2017 : Healthy Lifestyles Improve Well-Being

October 2017 : National Child Health Day

September 2017 : Strengthening Families and Communities