ECMHC awarded $285K grant


East Central Mississippi Health Care in Sebastopol is a community health center that recently celebrated 40 years of providing care to local area residents. ECMHC of Sebastopol started treating patients in 1978 and has expanded its network of clinics to include locations in Walnut Grove, Philadelphia and Newton.

The recent announcement that ECMHC was one of 18 community health care centers that will receive federal grants totaling $5 million has allowed the health care provider to begin plans for providing local area residents with quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services (SUD-MH) and targeting prevention in the fight against substance abuse and mental health disorders. The center will receive $285,000 in 2018 and is expected to receive additional funds in the amount of $110,000 annually through 2020 depending on congressional funding.

On September 19, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith’s office issued a press release that announced the recipients of the federal grants. “Opioid addiction and the problems stemming from substance abuse are a growing problem in Mississippi,” Hyde-Smith said. “These grants are part of a broader approach to fight not just the crime associated with opioid trafficking, but also the very personal toll these drugs take on individuals and families.”

In addition to Sebastopol, the Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services grant awards will go to community health centers in the following cities: Ashland, Biloxi, Canton, Clarksdale, Fayette, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Laurel, Lexington, Mantachie, Meridian, Mound Bayou, Pearl, Port Gibson, Shubuta and Smithville.

“We worked extremely hard during the grant application process and we were excited to find out that we were one of the centers awarded federal grant funds,” said ECMHC Executive Director Jill Bishop. “The non-competitive grant application had very strict criteria that we had to meet, but ultimately we were successful in meeting all requirements to be considered for the grant.”

The federal grants awarded to the Mississippi health care centers are part of more than 1,200 grants nationwide awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human services. The SUD-MH grants are intended to support evidence-based strategies to treat substance use disorders. ECMHC will use the grant money for renovations and expansion of their facilities in order to focus on prevention through identifying and treating mental health disorders suffered by patients in the hope to prevent patients from becoming dependent on substance abuse.

“A portion of the grant funds are a one-time funding for renovations, upgrades and expansion,” says Bishop. “We will utilize the funds to add exam rooms, offices and a room for group patient education at the Sebastopol clinic.” By expanding their facilities and adding medical staff ECMHC looks to offer health services that will put them at the forefront in the ongoing battle against substance use and abuse.

The local center will utilize the rest of the funding in taking a proactive approach in combating substance abuse disorders. They will be focusing on prevention rather treatment. “We can utilize the grant money broadly to treat mental health issues,” said Bishop. “Our focus here at the center will be on substance abuse disorder prevention by integrating behavioral and physical care of our patients.”

The first step in their proposed plan is to focus on prevention through offering a full array of mental health services. The center is currently interviewing to bring on a fulltime mental health nurse practitioner that will rotate between all four of the center’s network of clinics. Bishop says, “we have begun interviewing and have set the goal of having the position filled by the end of the year.”

ECMHC will implement plans and programs that will offer counseling to patients that have positive depression screenings. In addition, the center will offer counseling and mental health care to patients diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Anxiety and patients requesting or needing controlled substances to treat other diagnosis.

ECMHC has been providing affordable health care to local residents for more than 40 years and with the funds received from the new federal grants the center will now be able to offer additional mental health care to those in need within local communities. The center will put the funds to work in the local area by proactively combating substance use disorder by focusing on preventing the abuse before it starts. By being proactive in the fight against substance use abuse accompanied with offering the local areas only income based fees and pay schedules for medical and dental services ECMHC has long been a vital asset of the community.

In addition to the new mental health services the health care clinic offers medical and dental services including: on-site lab and digital x-ray, immunizations, well child exams, primary care, urgent care, bloodwork, urinalysis, hearing and vision screenings, family planning, comprehensive family medical services, internal medicine, chronic disease management, diabetic foot care, diabetic education, hypertension specialist and dental care. 

“ECMHC applies for a yearly grant and uses the funds to provide discounts to patients, said Bishop. She clarified that the clinic is not a free clinic, “Patients must fill out an application to determine eligibility for financial assistance based on income and family size.” The center will see patients regardless of their income or insurance status.

The center has Spanish translators on staff and welcomes Spanish-speaking patients seeking medical and dental care. Bishop said, “We’re different from a private practice. We see patients regardless of income or insurance status.”

For more information on the new mental health services at ECMHC, or any other medical or dental care call the Sebastopol Clinic at 601-625-7403 or visit the centers website at