THORNTON - Patients can now see a therapist at an Exempla medical clinic in Thornton because of a new partnership between Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center and Mental Health Partners.

Exempla's Thornton Medical Center at 1181 East 120th Ave. in Thornton is home to the pilot project. A social worker and an advanced practice nurse from Mental Health Partners work at the medical center. An advanced practice nurse is a specialist in psychiatric medications.

Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette provided seed funding for the project, which is expected to become self-sustaining in the future, said Tom Base, chief business development officer at Mental Health Partners, a Boulder-based nonprofit group.

While financial details were not immediately available, funding came s from the Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center Community Benefit program to meet community needs, according to a press release.

Exempla is providing the clinic space for free to the Mental Health Partners workers, Base said. The services are expected to be paid through patient insurance billing, Base said. Mental Health Partners will track improvements in patient outcomes and satisfaction, according to the press release.

"If you're struggling with issues, you know that we have a therapist right down the hall," Base said of the new partnership.

Health industry research indicates that patients most commonly bring up mental health issues to their primary care doctors. When doctors offer referrals to therapists, most patients do not follow up, however, according to the press release.

Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center is part of the SCL Health System Inc., which has more than 1,100 workers at offices in Broomfield, Denver and Lakewood.