Pathways, Inc. expanding child mental health services with a grant

Telehealth technology is being used by Pathways, Inc. of Ashland, KY to expand child mental health services. (WCHS/WVAH)

A $930,000 grant from United Health Foundation is helping Pathways, Inc. of Ashland expand mental health services for children across Eastern Kentucky.

"This portable system can easily be customized for each of our facilities," said Ray Bobbitt, the Network Administrator for Pathways as he demonstrates telehealth technology. Thanks to a grant from United Health Foundation, Pathways is using this technology to make it easier for children in Eastern Kentucky to get mental health services.

"We're continuing to see higher rates of depression, suicide, mental health in general, mental needs and it's particularly more acute in this region of the state," said Adam Meier, Secretary of Kentucky Health and Family Services.

Pathways is installing these telehealth units in their offices in Eastern Kentucky, where clients can talk with their specialized care providers. Without this technology, families would have to drive two hours for these appointments.

"One trip by the time we do gas and food it can be upwards of $100 a trip," said Betsy Caines of Greenup County. Her two sons have Down's Syndrome and ADHD, and every two months for three years the family made the trip from Greenup County to Lexington to see their doctor. Now those trips will be a thing of the past, and she believes this technology will help families who could not make the two hours trip get those much-needed child mental health services.

"We can drive to a location but so many families can't. For whatever reason single family, one car parents have to share," said Caines.

"We expect to be able to expand beyond the number of children that we are seeing the grant suggests. our goal is to have 30% increase by the end of the grant which is three years," said Dr. Kimberly McClanahan, CEO of Pathways, Inc.

Pathways, Inc. cares for more than 3,000 children in ten counties.

Dr. McClanahan says telehealth doctors appointments may soon be able to be done with an app on a cell phone.

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