Strength in Numbers
Through the Healthy Minds initiative, High Point’s mental healthcare providers are building capacity— in their own organizations and throughout the delivery network they share.
Headlines of the early 2020s continue to push mental health into the spotlight of public awareness. From the ravages of opioid addiction to the increased depression, anxiety and traumatic stress rates spilling out of the coronavirus pandemic, people are hurting like never before.
The Foundation for a Healthy High Point created its Healthy Minds initiative to help service providers grow their organizations and networks to meet demand.
“By strengthening provider organizations and the coordination of care they deliver, the program supports the ultimate goal of bringing services to people where they are,” said Curtis Holloman, the foundation’s new executive director. “To do that, Healthy Minds is putting collaboration at the forefront of how our local organizations go about providing services.”
Lisa Duck, executive director of Guilford Community Care Network, which coordinates care by a group of doctors, pharmacies and other agencies for low income, uninsured adults in Guilford County, said: “If there’s one thing COVID has taught us, it’s that we need to be ready for change. With Healthy Minds, there’s strength in numbers. We all have limited resources but having a network with a collective mission and goal increases access.”
The Foundation for a Healthy High Point deployed Healthy Minds in partnership with the Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation’s Center of Excellence for Integrated Care (COE), a proponent of integrated healthcare for more than a decade that has served more than 40 organizations in North Carolina and across the U.S.
Phase I fosters a culture of learning. Participants explore different aspects of each organization’s readiness to implement change and develops action plans in real-time workshops and coaching check-ins. The program provides funding for organizational capacity building. As organizations continue participating in the program, they are eligible for additional foundation grants.
Sharing What Works
“It’s nice to sit in a room with your peers and talk about what your organizations need: How do we make sure that we’re healthy? How do we make sure we are sustainable?” said Teresa Hinkle, clinical director of Caring Services, which provides substance abuse treatment and safe housing.
Finding balance in an unbalanced year has been a focal point for the work so far. What’s the right mix of face time and tele-health options? What are the most equitable ways to offer different options? What are the best protocols for continuously calibrating the balance of how care is delivered?
“Before the pandemic, tele-health focused mostly on rural delivery and for people who were sick and not mobile,” said Theresa Johnson, director of counseling services at Family Service of the Piedmont, which addresses issues of domestic violence, child abuse, mental health and financial stability. “Now, we’ve taken all forms online and received funding for some laptops for therapists. We went home, but we never closed our doors. We’ve even established a portal onsite, and now, some people don’t want to go back. And for some folks, that’s fine.”
Sharing what works and what doesn’t helps everyone. For instance, it turns out that regular Zoom meetings aren’t HIPAA compliant, but there’s a platform that is, called doxy.me.
Whether participants take a hard, global look at the issue of repeated admissions of indigent and uninsured patients to hospitals, or a focused view at how to match up an individual patient’s prescription needs with available coverage, Healthy Minds offers a space for providers to pool their knowledge.
Ready for Change
Healthy Minds also provides a forum to discuss the kinds of administrative concerns that come with running any kind of business. For example, if gentrification is nudging a provider away from its current campus, what might the process of moving to a new location look like? How will that impact the clients living in nearby transitional housing?
Whatever a particular organization’s specific concerns, Healthy Minds drills down on workforce and workflow questions. What will the shift toward tele-health mean in terms of staffing and skillset training? For providers? For office staff? What should the organizational chart look like a year from now? Five years?
The Healthy Minds program has a built-in, recurring metric for considering such questions, complete with its own acronym—ORIC, for “organizational readiness to implement change.”
Becky Yates, executive director of Caring Services, pays very close attention to ORIC as she looks at one of the biggest changes an organization can face: leadership succession.
A co-founder of Caring Services, Yates recently came back to her leadership position there after her decision to retire did not work out for the long run of the organization. Now, as she looks at the questions around leadership succession through the intentional and programmatic lens of Healthy Minds, she sees a bigger picture.
“Yesterday was an eye-opener,” Yates said of a recent workshop. “We learned that for a person who has been in the [leadership] role for a really long time, usually their replacement is there for only a year to 18 months.”
Yates learned that her organization can help ensure the new leader’s success by making sure the new person knows exactly what the position entails from the start. Yates and her colleagues are doing that work now with guidance and feedback from their Healthy Minds cohort, as she looks toward her second retirement from Caring Services.
“We’re starting the process early this time,” said Yates. “It takes a lot of writing down of daily, weekly, monthly, annual tasks…”
Wherever a mental-health services provider organization finds itself in its growth and development, and wherever a provider fits in the overall matrix of service delivery, Healthy Minds provides tools and a strength in numbers that works for the greater good.
As Yates put it: “If our organizations are stronger, then we are more effective individually and as a collective.”