Behavioral Health

Our Behavioral Health Clinic is integrated with our family medicine services to offer patient-centered care.

Dee Jay Donlin, Ph.D., LP, serves as Staff Clinical Psychologist in the behavioral health clinic, which is located in the family practice clinic at the Orange City campus. Dr. Donlin works closely with our primary care providers to offer holistic, patient-centered, coordinated behavioral health care.

Appointments with Dr. Donlin can be made by calling the Orange City Area Health System family medicine clinic at 712-737-2000 or through your family physician.


Dee Jay Donlin, Ph.D., LP

Dee Jay Donlin, Ph.D., LP

Area of Specialty: Behavioral-Mental Health
Focus: Behavioral Health
Started: May 2015
Education: University of Minnesota

Dr. Dee Jay Donlin, who directs our Behavioral Health Clinic in our Orange City Family Medicine Clinic, answers some questions about this important service in Northwest Iowa.

Q: How would you define “behavioral health?” What role does it play in healthcare?

Dr. Donlin: In many circles, “behavioral health” and “mental health” are used interchangeably. However, “behavioral health” may also include additional care concerns including behavioral factors in chronic illness management, substance abuse conditions and diagnoses, health maintenance and oversight, etc. One of the most concerning statistics that I recently came across is that a patient with significant medical issues combined with significant mental health issues is likely to have a 25 year shorter life span than the patient without mental health issues. We also know that up to 60% of people attending primary care clinics (according to the World Health Organization) have a diagnosable mental disorder. There may be many reasons for these statistics, but I think it points to the fact that we need to be integrating medical care with behavioral health care in order to best serve our patients.

Q: How does Orange City Area Health System’s Behavioral Health Clinic fit in — or ‘integrate” — with its family medicine clinic and services?

Dr. Donlin: In many settings, behavioral health services have often been provided in a separate location from medical services.  This “silo” approach to care can contribute to logistical difficulties (for example–adequate access for patients, communication/coordination of care among providers) as well as stigma associated with the care.  In order to provide more efficient, effective, and convenient services to patients, Orange City Area Health System is adopting a model of care in which behavioral health is not only co-located beside primary care providers, but also attempts to provide a truly integrated service in which family practice medical providers and behavioral health providers are working together as part of a collaborative team to best serve the needs of the patient.  The model has been around for a while, and there appears to be increasing evidence that working collaboratively not only provides better outcomes for patients, but can also result in enhanced satisfaction for those providing the care.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about the need for behavioral or mental health services in the rural setting? Are there gaps in accessibility, and do you feel that our new clinic will help fill those gaps?

Dr. Donlin: As I’m learning more and more about the community through discussions with colleagues and patients, I’m finding that there are similar problems here as in most rural settings. In these settings, the tendency is to under diagnose many of the common behavioral health difficulties (depression, anxiety, chemical abuse), partially due to simply not asking the questions (screenings) as well as not having consistent access to and communication with the behavioral health providers. A recent survey revealed that it is not uncommon for an outpatient to wait 45 days to see a psychiatrist. We are still working on that issue but hoping that family practice and psychology can fill in the gap.

Q: What are some of the more common behavioral health issues that you have been seeing in northwest Iowa?

Dr. Donlin: A good number of people are just folks who have experienced significant stressors and are trying to find ways to cope. Sometimes they are demonstrating normal responses to abnormal situations, and sometimes they are dealing with normal situations through abnormal responses. Whether we call these responses depression, anxiety, or something else – the key is to develop healthy coping mechanisms for the stressors they face.

Q. What’s the best way to get plugged into our behavioral health services? And what about confidentiality?

Dr. Donlin: Patients can set up an appointment by calling the clinic number (712-737-2000) and also through referral by their medical provider. Sometimes we even have the opportunity to initiate services during a medical visit, in order for the patient to meet the behavioral health provider and briefly discuss services that could be provided. Confidentiality is always the highest priority for the patient, yet it remains important for the medical provider to be aware of the behavioral needs of the patient and for the behavioral health provider to be aware of the medical issues involved to comprehensively address patient concerns.

Orange City Area Health System is a comprehensive health system encompassing four family medicine clinics, sports medicine clinic, behavioral health clinic, award-winning hospital, birth center, surgical center, radiology and laboratory services, occupational health services, specialty outreach services, physical and aquatic therapy, home health and hospice, a retirement community, and a senior care center. The health system campus – designed with privacy and total healing as its foundation – is situated on 37 acres, including a pond with fountain, a healing garden, and a field of prairie grasses and wild flowers adjacent to the PuddleJumper Trail.

A team of family medicine providers, along with dedicated nurses, medical specialists, and 500 support staff, are committed to serving the region with the Core Values of Integrity, Commitment to Excellence, Dedicated Colleagues, and Extraordinary Customer Experience. Orange City Area Health System has been named one of the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in the nation, one of “50 Critical Access Hospitals to Know” in the U.S., and a Women’s Choice Award recipient for Outstanding Patient Experience for three consecutive years.