WCMHS begins 2018 as a Center of Excellence! In 2017 we continued the work of addressing and improving upon: access to services; client satisfaction; comprehensive, integrated care; excellent value; and excellent outcomes. Through an intensive process of evaluating how we deliver specific services under each category throughout our entire agency and with 800 staff, certification was granted through Vermont Care Partners (VCP). VCP represents 16 agencies statewide, providing leadership for an integrated system of services and supports for mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance use disorders. In working to establish a Centers of Excellence standard, VCP collaborated with the Jeffords Institute and enlisted a professional peer review process. We are very proud of being the first designated agency in the State to achieve this 3-year certification and look forward to helping other designated agencies as they work towards the same goal. When awarding the certification, VCP issued these findings: “ WCMHS has proven that it is an excellent place to come to receive high quality care from dedicated staff. The people you are charged to support achieve excellent outcomes and report high satisfaction.” I’d like to highlight a few of our endeavors this past year to demonstrate how our staff continues to pursue best practice, creativity, and passion in our work, creating this spirit of excellence.
It goes without saying that WCMHS provides a solid foundation of treatment and support to those individuals who come through our doors, whether it be self-directed or referred from their friends, families, schools, primary care providers, home health, hospitals, Department of Children and Families, Corrections, etc. With fewer dollars available, we are stretching to utilize our available resources more effectively to partner with others and fill gaps in our community system that have been evident for years.Our partnership with Central Vermont Medical Center has led us to launch three successful programs where we are seeing early and longer term positive results:
The first, the Integrated Health Home, has established a primary health home at Granite City Medical practice for individuals who had a difficult time maintaining a doctor and have severe complications with their physical, mental or emotional stability. With increased case management, 16 individuals achieved positive health results and health care experiences in the primary care practice. They also accepted and followed up on referrals to specialists, and reduced the group’s overall average emergency room utilization by 32%. This project involved all adult services divisions here at WCMHS: Community Support Programs, Counseling and Psychological Services, Community and Developmental Services, and Intensive Care Services.
Also working with the University of Vermont/Central Vermont Medical Center Emergency Room and our Intensive Care Division, specifically Home Intervention crisis bed program, WCMHS established a social detoxification withdrawal bed for individuals who are determined by the ER to need these special wraparound services while de-toxing from alcohol and awaiting a referral to longer term treatment. The bed is utilized “as available” within this mental health crisis program and expands our co-occurring capability. It has already served a number of individuals in an “on demand” treatment approach with excellent follow up treatment. Other partners involved in this endeavor are Central Vermont Substance Abuse Services and Turning Point Recovery Center of Barre, Vermont.
Brand new out of the gate is an Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) project, embedding a shared fulltime position between WCMHS Children, Youth, and Family Services (CYFS) and the Family Center of Washington County at Pediatric Primary Care in Berlin. Addressing ACEs early can help to support children’s health and development while preventing the negative effects of these stressors, and has the potential to prevent chronic physical and mental health problems later in life. Two Family Support Specialists will be accepting referrals for children up to 36 months old, providing evidence based parent education and parent coaching within 24 hours of the Pediatrician’s referral.
Of course, we all know that housing is one of the primary social determinants of health. Social determinants of health are the economic and social conditions that affect health outcomes and can create extreme stress. With temperatures dipping so far below zero this winter, The Good Samaritan Shelter in Barre has utilized expanded space at the Bethany Church for shelter to bring people in out of the cold. WCMHS has hired a clinician to specifically provide mental health and housing information supports to people residing at the shelter and has expanded a more homelike space through three apartments leased to the Shelter. It is our hope that we can garner a grant to further assist through peer support services for those who are awaiting long term housing.
WCMHS and Lamoille County Mental Health Services (LCMHS) are both working with our local housing and development organizations on another special endeavor to support two pilot ‘tiny house projects’ in our respective regions. Our organizations have secured a $10,000 feasibility grant through the Vermont Housing Conservation Board. The goal is to expand housing options for those who have severe difficulty securing housing. The Department of Mental Health and Downstreet Housing and Community Development are actively partnering in this project.
As WCMHS moves forward to lead in our community with partnerships and efficiencies, we are very proud to announce that all of our buildings will be converting to solar energy. We have just signed a Letter of Intent to work with Norwich Solar Technologies to plan the conversion, which will render WCMHS considerable energy savings over the next 25 years.
We also look forward to providing more supports and incentives to our staff who would like to exercise and improve their overall health in this new year. Due to the growing menu of options currently provided: exercise, acu-detox, art, yoga, nutrition, and more, the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports has selected WCMHS to receive a 2018 Governor’s Excellence in Worksite Wellness Award for our commitment to health and wellness at our workplace. Awards will be handed out at the 2018 Worksite Wellness Conference on March 21, 2018 at the Hotel Burlington and Conference Center in Burlington. Congratulations to our Wellness Committee, WellSpace, and all who have collaborated with us to make this happen. We look forward to input on how to improve. Our work and our world can be stressful and we need to take care of ourselves and each other.
Hope you will take a step to do something good for yourself today! The challenges we’ve had this past year at WCMHS have clearly not held us back from growing, stretching, and improving as an organization. We should apply that same standard to our personal lives. Take good care!
Thanks, Mary Moulton WCMHS Executive Director