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Behavioral Health & Addiction

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Overcoming Barriers to Accessing Behavioral Health Care

Reimagining behavioral health services and partnering with other organizations to increase access to mental health support remained a priority this past year. In 2021, the Specialized Treatments and Recovery Team (START) Program was launched to provide access to urgent mental health and addiction services.

In FY23, the START team cared for 1,742 unique patients through 8,766 visits with services ranging from psychiatry, therapy, recovery support and peer support. Nearly 200 visits focused specifically on individuals who needed help navigating community-based services to overcome social determinants of health challenges. This unique model of care kept patients from needing to seek help from the hospital emergency room over 2,700 times in FY23. The START team impacts the lives of patients in a meaningful way, showing a 21% average increase in DLA-20 scores — a tool that measures quality of life after patients engage with their services.

This innovative clinic engages with nearly 100 community organizations through partnership and outreach to deliver coordinated services to people with justice involvement and connect them to health care and social supports. Collective action through this partnership has delivered great results:

  • 134 patients with substance use disorder initiated Medication-assisted Treatment (MAT), an evidenced based pharmaceutical intervention.
  • 639 shelf-stable meals and navigation support to community-based resources provided to 84 patients with food-insecurity.
  • Hygiene kits provided to 40 neighbors in need.
  • Over 650 bus passes and car rides provided to patients with transportation barriers.

Across our communities, we are reimagining behavioral healthcare and finding better ways to connect primary care and behavioral health teams to respond promptly to the needs of patients. This shared care model provides support for adults, teens and children five years and older. The shared care teams partner with 60 family medicine, internal medicine, geriatric, pediatric and sports medicine practices to serve our patients better by:

  • Clarifying diagnoses
  • Managing medications or alternatives to medicine
  • Performing psychiatric evaluations
  • Coordinating brief therapy sessions
  • Connecting patients to long-term care as needed

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Battling Addiction and Substance Abuse

WellSpan has a deep commitment to advancing care and community partnerships to battle opioid/substance use disorder. We continue to expand our best practice work, engage with community partners, and implement innovative programs. In addition to engaging in seven community collaboratives across the WellSpan service area, our clinical teams took action to reduce opioid prescribing.

In January 2023, WellSpan's Restorative Pain Program opened. This innovative program helps patients with chronic pain improve their functional goals while striving to decrease opioid doses. Over 50 patients now have year-long access to a pain specialist, acupuncture, massage, behavior health, nutrition counseling, physical therapy, and care coordination in a trauma-informed setting.

Foundations Pregnancy Support Services support mothers and children affected by addiction. Over 200 women are currently enrolled with more than 360 women benefiting since the program's inception in 2019. 

We continue efforts to improve access to naloxone and medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder across our hospital emergency departments and in the community.

Community Support

WellSpan behavioral health experts also support community outreach and training that elevate awareness and equip community members to better recognize and respond to mental health illness and support those in crisis. We’ve also reimagined how we connect to our neighbors for support, expanding provision of virtual appointments for behavioral health. In 2023, our team conducted 315,266 virtual behavioral health visits with patients. 

In FY23, 1,400 neighbors across our community participated in WellSpan educational outreach sessions like Mental Health First Aid, Question-Persuade-Refer (QPR), Trauma 101/102, and Family-Based Services programs. These programs are designed to better equip individuals to build healthy relationships and/or recognize and respond to signs of mental health illness and suicide ideation.

Success Story

Conrad"During a rough spot in my life I was connected with services at START through York County’s Mental Health Court. I really struggled at first, there were some things I did not want to address. However, with the support of START, I was able to connect with a psychiatrist and therapist that helped me immediately.

"I was able to get referred to trauma therapy with their help and work with a great psychiatrist while waiting for a spot to open at another location for long-term services. Without their support and their agency, I would have continued to make poor decisions and use drugs, which would’ve led me back to prison."

-Conrad H.


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