Grant awardees collaborate to improve access to care |

Grant awardees collaborate to improve access to care

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Five local nonprofits are making “significant progress” toward their goals of combining efforts to ensure wider and easier access to mental health, primary care and other services, according to Rosemary Younts, director of community benefits for Dignity Health.

The organizations are working together with funds totaling $60,000 awarded under the Dignity Health Community Grants program earlier this year.

Two of the organizations, The Friendship Club (TFC) and the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition (DVSAC), have launched the Building Bridges to a Healthy Future program, providing young women from both groups with access to each other’s programs.

The other partnership involving Community Recovery Resources (CoRR), FREED Center for Independent Living, and Western Sierra Medical Clinic, has been cross-training staff members to provide seamless access to people of all ages to behavioral health, substance abuse, and primary care.

“Both partnerships are working hard to develop improved referral processes for clients, and to create an integrated method of measuring their collective outcomes for the good work they are doing,” Yount noted.

Ana Acton, executive director at FREED, reported that cross training has resulted in staff from CoRR, Western Sierra, and her nonprofit “to have a better understanding of services at each organization, and how to best make referrals to one another.”

In addition, she said FREED has created a new memorandum of understanding with Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) for an actual workspace at the hospital, where a staff member guides discharged patients to appropriate agencies for further help.

Ariel Lovett, deputy director at CoRR, said her organization was able to screen about 725 clients needing substance abuse or behavioral health treatment to determine whether they had access to primary health care. She said CoRR’s Family Wellness Partnership “achieved considerable successes in developing and establishing a system of integrated services.” As part of the process, they have worked with Western Sierra Medical Clinic to open a primary care clinic at CoRR’s Grass Valley Campus, she said.

The Dignity Health grant “has truly supported increased collaboration between three key agencies that work with our community’s most vulnerable populations,” Lovett said.

Francine Novak, chief operating officer for Western Sierra Medical Clinic, also cited their clinic at the CoRR facility, which is now open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays with plans to expand to more days.

“We were very excited to collaborate with CoRR and FREED,” Novak said. “This partnership helps to provide services for those with more complex health and social needs, and that strengthens the health of our entire community.”

TFC and DVSAC are focused on at-risk young women, and Nancy Ramsey, programs director for DVSAC, declared that, “By working together, we intend to help young women see an alternative to the dysfunctional relationships and poor lifestyle choices they witness in their families.”

The challenge, she said, is that both agencies are so busy that it is difficult to find times to meet.

“There is no down side to working with The Friendship Club,“ she added. “While we are very different agencies, we both have the same desire — to provide all the support we can to young women dealing with such stress in their lives.”

Dena Valin, associate director of TFC, said her organization and DVSAC have brought young women together in the Girls Circle program, as well as expanding adult/youth mentor relationships. TFC has also developed a recruitment video describing what it is to be an at-risk girl, and how girls can benefit from TFC programs. It will be used with partner schools and other agencies, she said.

“Partnering with others in the community to improve the quality of life has always been an important aspect of our mission,” Yount said about the Dignity Health grant program. “Working together allows organizations to leverage resources and areas of expertise in order to provide more comprehensive services that individuals may need, and have a greater impact on their health and their lives.”

She noted that the federal Affordable Care Act encourages hospitals to collaborate with other nonprofit organizations in their communities, to make certain that discharged patients are connected with the community resources they will need to keep them healthy.

“This kind of increased focus on the whole needs of individuals, whether it be physical and mental health care, food and shelter, or other social support services, is critical if we are to truly improve the health of our communities,” Yount said.

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.

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