College of Nursing expanding behavioral health outreach in Johnson, Hancock counties

Published 7:59 am Friday, November 15, 2019

JOHNSON CITY — The East Tennessee State University College of Nursing will expand its behavioral health services at the college’s nurse-managed clinics in the underserved communities of Johnson and Hancock counties.

The expanded behavioral health services are possible thanks to a $167,000 Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant that the college received earlier this year. The grant funds will allow the college to hire a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and an RN care manager to specifically address individuals with pain management, substance use disorder and/ or mental health conditions at the College of Nursing’s two school-based health centers in Hancock County and the Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center in Johnson County.

“Nationally, mental health needs are growing, and in rural areas there is an even greater demand,” said Dr. Roslyn Robinson, assistant dean of practice and community partnership in the College of Nursing. “This grant allows us to expand services where they are limited and much needed.”

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Approximately 30% of the patients at the Mountain City Extended Hours Health Center experience chronic pain, have co-occurring substance use disorders or have mental health conditions. The clinic has an average of three new patients each week who fall into these categories.

In Hancock County, there is only one mental health professional who comes to the county part-time from the regional mental health agency.

The college hopes to have the new positions in place by the first quarter of 2020 to begin to better address the shortage of behavioral care in these counties.

“These two new positions will work hand-in-hand to do outreach and have onsite visits at our remote sites in Hancock and Johnson counties,” said Silas Tolan, executive director of the College of Nursing’s Community Health Centers. “These individuals will have office hours at different locations for face-to-face visits and also will conduct virtual visits through telehealth technology.”

In addition, the expanded program will collaborate with local opioid use disorder services that provide medication assisted treatment.

The ETSU College of Nursing anticipates that the expanded services will provide care to 320 patients through December 2020.

To learn more about ETSU’s College of Nursing, visit