Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital is building a new Behavioral Health Program named “Community Connect” to reduce health disparities related to mental health, substance abuse and adverse childhood events by increasing access to services and treatment options. In 2018, SMH was awarded over $300,000 to create a program to address these issues in our community. The hospital is partnering with community agencies to connect vital resources to our residents and surrounding counties. The Community Connect Program utilizes an integrated team approach that includes a patient navigator, medical providers, therapists, nurses, community agencies, law enforcement, and our school systems. The program seeks to coordinate care between patients and community resources and provide ongoing education about mental health, substance abuse and adverse childhood events.
Collaborative care models have long been demonstrated to improve depression treatment outcomes in primary care, and there is emerging evidence that these models have applicability to opioid and alcohol use disorders. SMH is uniquely positioned to lead an integrated approach to address these complex issues. As an independent community hospital, we are committed to serve our community.
Evidence based medicine demonstrates childhood trauma adversely affects life trajectory and can lead to mental health and substance abuse issues for many. This can eventually have detrimental effects on physical health and well-being.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, General medical settings are opportune for the identification and initiation of addiction treatment. There is strong evidence for delivering primary care-based alcohol and tobacco screening, brief interventions, and referrals to higher levels of specialty addiction treatment, providing integrated psychiatric, addiction, and general medical treatment.
Our goal is to improve health outcomes of those we serve by increasing access to high-quality, person-centered, mental health and substance use disorder assistance programs. These programs will be trauma-informed, intergenerational, integrated medical services, along with a comprehensive staff training component.
We believe we must approach the intergenerational cycle of trauma, mental health crises, and substance abuse by addressing these issues during childhood to have a positive impact on future generations. For our adult and senior populations that are living with the effects of untreated mental health disorders, unaddressed trauma, and substance use behaviors, our goal is to support and provide needed services to help seniors attain optimal health and wellbeing. Recovery is lifelong and requires support.
The Patient Navigator (PN) position was created to help the person and family navigate the cumbersome healthcare and substance use systems. Julie Hardy, Patient Navigator for the Community Connect Program, holds a Masters Degree in Counseling with over 6 years experience in the social work field. She is now available to work with patients who could benefit from resources in our community and surrounding areas.
Our 2016 Community Needs Assessment identified “access to care for behavioral health (substance abuse and mental health)” as a major need. These survey results, coupled with our own tracking of an increase in emergency room patients presenting with substance abuse challenges, convinced us to hire a psychiatric nurse practitioner in May 2017 to better address these increasing health care needs in our community. Her preliminary work has supported the need for an increased investment to address a community need.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the existing healthcare system has significant fragmentation, overall access problems, and specific inaccessibility to highly effective addiction treatments. Building an integrated system of care at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital requires addressing these factors.
We recognize obtaining services can be complex and cumbersome, preventing many from accessing care. The Trauma-Informed Patient Navigator, July Hardy, will help children, adults, and seniors increase access to services and appropriate treatment, ultimately leading to improved overall health. Julie will also help SMH coordinate available services with community agencies.
The Patient Navigator will focus on coordination of care, services, and community resources to promote the overall health of children and adults. If any mental health, substance use, or additional referral needs are found during a RHC/ER visit, the person can be seen by the Patient Navigator who will help the person navigate the complex systems currently in place at many organizations. Appropriate referrals and appointments will be made at that time. Patient Navigator services will be free of charge and a referral from a provider will not be required. Patients can also self-refer. We believe the Patient Navigator is essential to the success of this program.
Only approved organizations will be allowed access to the Community Connect forum. The forum allows professionals to share information about current resources, upcoming events and helpful services. Once your form is submitted, it will be reviewed by the Community Connect Team at Schoolcraft Memorial Hospital. Access to the live forum will be granted within 7 days after the registrant’s details have been reviewed and approved. Authentication may include workplace verification and phone interviews. You will receive a welcome letter once access has been granted.
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