JPS was singled out by the American Hospital Association (AHA) as a healthcare system innovating to improve access to psychiatric and substance abuse services in the community. In a June 3 letter to President Barack Obama, the AHA cited JPS for its role in a partnership of public and private agencies that emerged in the aftermath of the mass shooting at Wedgewood Baptist Church.
"A number of community and psychiatric hospitals have established programs to address the behavioral health needs in their community," wrote Rich Umbdenstock, president and chief executive officer of the AHA, urging Obama’s continued support for psychiatric and substance abuse healthcare.
JPS was praised for its role as a founding member of Mental Health Connection of Tarrant County, which was formed following the Wedgewood Baptist Church assault in 1999. A 47-year-old man who had for years exhibited overt symptoms of mental illness took two guns and a pipe bomb to the church and opened fire on a youth group, killing seven young people and wounding seven others before taking a seat on a back pew and fatally shooting himself.
"Mental Health Connection members assess the short-and long-term behavioral health needs for the community and provide the resources and support necessary to care for those who require assistance," Umbdenstock wrote. In addition to JPS, members include ACH Children and Family Services, Fort Worth ISD, Tarrant County, Lena Pope Home and MHMR of Tarrant County.
"I think we should be very proud that our work with Mental Health Connection was one of four highlighted programs from AHA’s 5,000 hospitals and 1,600 behavioral health providers," said Wayne Young, JPS vice president and administrator of Trinity Springs Pavilion. Young is vice chairman of Mental Health Connection.