WCMHS 2016 Year in Review- Strong Partnerships Create a Healthier Community
As the Executive Director of WCMHS, I look back at the work of a year’s time and am amazed at the progression of our programs and the importance of our role within the community. The number of people we serve increases annually; and well over 90 percent of our clients believe that the services we provide have made a positive difference in their lives. In 2016 approximately 7,000 individuals benefitted from our programs --- this includes those lives we touch through non-billable educational programming and community supports, as well as disaster response.
The extraordinary difference between community service organizations, such as ours, and our partners in health is that we are pro-active in outreach to people by going into their homes, meeting them in libraries, shelters, courts, schools, group homes, hospitals, doctor’s offices, police stations, and even sidewalks. Working in such a pro-active manner allows us to foster great partnerships which enhance our ability to succeed on behalf of our clients. Let’s take a look at a few of those services where we work hand in glove with others:
Partnering in Children, Youth, and Family Services in 2016
- We worked to create a school lunch program with staff Dustin Jones and Phil Gentile digging in and pulling up their sleeves, creating a Farm to Table program, partnering with Bare Roots Farm and receiving donations from multiple sources, including National Life Group, enabling us to finally build a commercial kitchen to fit the bill. Students now are served and work to serve others in making delicious healthy meals.
- Paramount to our work in this arena is the partnership we have with schools to provide supports for students who would not otherwise succeed in the classroom. Those that come to the WCMHS accredited schools for stabilization and skills-building for short periods demonstrate a near perfect attendance rate (little to no truancy at Ch.O.I.C.E. Academy and Beckley Day Program!) while continuing to work on their education.
- We partner with our OB/GYN office to provide case management to women who have addiction issues and trauma issues. Our case managers help women get to appointments; assist them in finding housing, clothing, and furniture; provide classes on childbirth education and pre-natal yoga; and even provide doula supports during birth through a partnership with Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC).
- The future looks toward a new project in July where we will place a case manager from WCMHS and The Family Center of Washington County into a local Pediatrics practice where we will “build a bridge” from the doctor’s office to community services and track outcomes for infant through five year olds whose families have had adverse child or family events that have affected quality of life and function. This project will be funded through the state's new All Payer Waiver.
Partnering in Adult Services in 2016
- The establishment of an Integrated Health Home has been realized at Granite City Primary Care. Both the WCMHS and Granite City teams have worked diligently to develop this model with the goal of improving the overall health of some people with very unique needs. The service delivery is patient, caring, and respectful. Having a partner like CVMC is helping us to achieve some long-desired goals toward a more holistic system of care with the hope of bending the curve on life expectancy for people with serious mental health challenges, one person at a time.
- We have worked diligently to lead Care Coordination in our region. When our health care system identifies individuals whose medical expenses are extremely high or whose health is extremely poor, WCMHS leads providers throughout the region in the development of Shared Care Plans to outline goals for better health. Recognizing the importance of the social determinants of health, community providers and health care providers learn a set of screening tools to determine whether basic needs such as housing and transportation are being met as they build a plan for recovery. Outcomes are being tracked to measure the success of this vital programming.
- WCMHS has vital Vocational Programming for individuals who have intellectual or mental health challenges. Working with local businesses to open the door to people who have special needs, WCMHS then sees the benefits when assisting our clients in engaging in the interview and hiring process. Over 46% of our consumers receiving Developmental Services succeed at securing employment while 32% of our clients receiving Community Support Program services succeed. Work contributes to the overall health of the individual.
Partnering with our Community in 2016
- The Autism Puzzle Foundation fulfilled a long term goal through its donation to WCMHS for the development of a multi-sensory Snoezelen room. Due to the generosity of the Lamberti family and their desire to create a lasting legacy in memory of their family matriarch, Kay Lamberti, this one-of-a-kind room has been transformed by our Facilities crew at 23 Summer Street in Barre, Vermont and provides a safe, colorful, but low stim environment for all who visit. The Imagination Station, as we call it, is primarily used for those who have Autism, although it can be beneficial to many who experience sensory and developmental disorders. We are so pleased to share this wonderful resource with our community and beyond. It is a place where many who struggle in their daily lives find peace and joy while using the space. The testimonials range geographically from those living in Vermont to those who travelled from as far away as Virginia and North Dakota to utilize this extraordinary space for their loved ones. For more information, please call Phil Wells at 479-4055 or view our website: http://www.wcmhs.org.
- Working in response to Harwood Union High School following the tragic deaths of 5 beloved junior class members, WCMHS provided or arranged for daily supports, grief groups, and resiliency and recovery exercises such as yoga, life-mapping, mindfulness, drumming, and therapy dogs for over 3 months. WCMHS has an extraordinary Disaster Response Team which leaves their regular jobs for the time needed to help our communities heal from such tragic events. These supports will continue through a school social worker who will remain in place until the end of the school year.
- In the area of education, we have provided Youth Mental Health First Aid to school faculty, state librarians, probation and parole, local police and state youth development coordinators to teach them how to recognize a mental health or substance use problem in youth and how to make an action plan to help. Contact for 8-hour course: Kirk Postlewaite at 229-1399.
- We also offer Mental Health First Aid for adults which has become increasingly helpful to community provider groups working with the public and wanting to know more about how to help those who may be experiencing a mental health crisis. This course teaches how to recognize when an individual is under stress and how to act to help. Contact for our 8-hour course: Laurie Pontbriand at 223-6328.
- Of course, our Emergency Services and Urgent Care teams are all over the map, responding to a multitude of settings as needed while still maintain the highest level of respect for the indivieduals they support. This team employs a mobile outreach model working closely throughout the entire community to respond to children and adults in crisis. In the coming year, this team would like to see its resources expand to offer a Social Detox Bed, within an existing program, for individuals with substance use disorders. For those experiencing a mental health emergency, please call: 229-0591.
As you can see, we have been working! And this is just a fraction of the work we do from day-to-day to support individuals in need. The challenge going forward in our region will be to create a system that is stream-lined so that our clients are able to access health care and health care is able to access mental health, substance use, and developmental services.