Patrick J. Kennedy to lead community conversation on Mental Health

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    Elizabeth DeRuyter
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    Dave Meany
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Spokane, WA—Patrick J. Kennedy, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and longtime advocate for health care reform related to preventive care and the treatment of mental illnesses and addiction, comes to Spokane January 31, 2018. Kennedy will lead a community forum about the importance of mental health care in our region and our nation.

Kennedy is the keynote speaker at “Making Mental Health Essential Health,” a community conversation. The free event is presented by Providence Health Care and Eastern Washington University at the Spokane Convention Center. Doors open at 5 p.m. for a presentation of local mental health resources; the keynote presentation and panel of local experts follows from 6-8 p.m.

In his remarks, Kennedy will explain why and how the health care system must adapt to better accommodate mental health and addiction treatment, the underlying public policy imperatives around the Federal Parity Law, and why we need to invest in technological innovations to save lives.

In 2013, mental illness was estimated to be the most costly condition in the world, and the systems designed to help continue to be plagued by gaps in services, access and funding that make it difficult—and sometimes impossible— to provide a broad continuum of care for those in need. In Spokane, community experts have repeatedly identified mental health as one of the highest areas of need.

Since his earliest days in public service, Kennedy believed that mental health should be a national priority. After 16 years in Congress and countless bills passed, one stands out among the rest for its impact on the lives of all Americans: the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, also known as the Federal Parity Law. This bill was designed to ensure that mental health is treated on-par with physical health, breaking down decades-old practices in the health care system that kept the two areas separate from one another, often with dire consequences.

Patrick J. Kennedy, the youngest son of the late Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, is the founder of The Kennedy Forum, a member of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, co-founder of One Mind and author of the New York Times bestseller “A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction.”

The Community Health Forum is an annual presentation and community discussion of health related topics of importance to the Spokane community. It is presented by Providence Health Care and Eastern Washington University, with support from Empire Health Foundation and Kaiser Permanente.

About Providence Health Care

Providence Health Care is the eastern Washington service area of Providence Health & Services, a not-for-profit Catholic health care ministry committed to providing for the needs of the communities it serves – especially for those who are poor and vulnerable. In eastern Washington, the Providence Health Care includes Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital and Providence Holy Family Hospital – all nationally recognized for quality care, as well as two critical access hospitals in Colville and Chewelah. It also includes a full continuum of services – Providence Medical Park in Spokane Valley (a comprehensive multi-specialty center), three urgent care centers, home health, assisted living, adult day health and skilled nursing care. Providence Medical Group of eastern Washington includes more than 800 physicians and advanced practitioners.

About Eastern Washington University

EWU is a rapidly-growing, regional, comprehensive public university, located in Cheney, just 16 miles from Spokane. Founded in 1882, Eastern has evolved to meet the demands of an ever-changing workforce and become a driving force in the culture, economy and vitality of the Inland Northwest. The university offers 135 areas of study, two engineering degrees, nine master’s degrees, 12 graduate certificates, 39 graduate programs, an educational specialist degree and one applied doctorate. The EWU Spokane campus is located in the thriving University District and is home to the university’s College of Health Science & Public Health and the College of Business & Public Administration. This presence allows the university to solidify important academic and community partnerships in the region. Learn more at ewu.edu.