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The Providence Center and Dartmouth College Complete Four-Year “Health Connections” Grant Program

Posted: Mon, November 27, 2017

The Providence Center recently completed a four-year grant funded by the Substance Abse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) called “Health Connections.” The mission of the project was to connect people with excessive hospitalizations (designated “super users”) who also have a serious mental illness diagnosis to a comprehensive array of services with the ultimate goal of reducing high cost service use, increasing stability, and improving quality of life. 

The program was led by Holly Fitting, LMHC, LCDP, Vice President of Recovery & Residential Services, and was staffed by a full time Program Manager, Taylor D’Addario, BA, LCDP, and three full time Community Health Coordinators.  The Coordinators worked closely with staff in multiple hospitals to identify potentially eligible individuals, meeting with them before discharge to engage them in the program.

Sarah Pratt, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at The Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College provided an assessment of the programs results, citing favorable numbers across the board.

At the point of enrollment, 22% of clients did not have a primary care doctor, and 38% had received no primary care over the prior six months.  With the first six months of enrollment, only 3.8% of our program clients did not have a primary care doctor, and by the end of the first 12 months of our program, the number of clients without primary care dropped to two.

Additionally, for clients who completed both a baseline and six month follow-up assessment, the mean number of ER visits over the prior six months dropped significantly:

  • Visits for substance abuse decreased by almost 37%
  • Visits for medical reasons decreased by 68%
  • Visits for psychiatric issues decreased by 50%

At baseline, 73% of participants reported that they went to the emergency room to seek care, 27% reported that they sought care at an urgent care center and no participants reported seeking care at a primary care office.  Within 18 months, care seeking had improved even further, with only 36% seeking care at the emergency room, 42% seeking care at a primary care office, and 22% seeking care at an urgent care center. 

Holly Fitting, TPC’s Vice President of Recovery & Residential Services, sees the results as a proof of an encouraging ‘return on investment’ for these kinds of wraparound services. “The favorable results proved that having this type of intervention not only helped the clients, but also serve as a cost savings to the system,” said Fitting.

To learn more about the Health Connections program, contact Taylor D’Addario.