Skip to Main Content

News Details

Polk County’s Indigent Healthcare Program Increases Funding For Behavioral Health Services In Response To The COVID-19 Pandemic


Published on May 19, 2020


BARTOW, FL (May 19, 2020) - The COVID-19 Pandemic has and will continue to increase the need for behavioral health services. Polk County’s Indigent Healthcare (IHC) program currently funds access to behavioral health services through several local partnerships. Behavioral health funding was increased this fiscal year by $1,001,816 and a total of $7,724,443 is now allocated for behavioral health services to Polk’s uninsured and underserved population.

Of the $1,001,816 increase, $900,840 reflects new, increased, or continued funding in recent actions taken by the Board to improve the critical behavioral health infrastructure, and help to minimize COVID-19 impacts in our community.

“This COVID-19 experience has put a strain on all of us.  For those already dealing with mental health issues the stress is even greater.  I am hopeful these additional funds and services will help to alleviate their suffering,” said Commissioner George Lindsey.

Recent newly added, increased, or continued behavioral health funding during May is as follows: 

  • New behavioral health partnership with Lakeland Regional Health for both outpatient services and a telehealth platform (reallocation of $600,000 from primary care to behavioral health);
  • Continued funding support to Peace River Center for integrated behavioral health services in a primary care setting, and behavioral telehealth;
  • Continued support and $200,000 in increased funding to Tri County Human Services to serve more people through behavioral telehealth;
  • New funding to Tri County Human Services for additional case management support for mandatory assessment and treatment of someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol and appears to be a danger to themselves or others; in response to the 15% increase in Marchman Acts (substance abuse interventions throughout the County ($50,000);
  • Increased funding to BayCare’s Winter Haven Hospital Center for Behavioral Health to be able to serve more people through their Specialized Community Treatment Team in both an outpatient setting and through a newly established behavioral telehealth platform ($50,840).

“We want to make sure uninsured people facing behavioral health and or substance misuse issues, have access to needed services in a setting that is right for them,” said Joy Johnson, Relations Administrator for the county’s Health and Human Services Division. “We are supporting our community partners to address the behavioral health impact from the COVID-19 Pandemic in a proactive way.”