There’s historically been a pioneer spirit in Mono County. That spirit is alive and well to this day; you see it as you travel along Highway 395. You hear it when you stop and talk to the residents of communities such as Bridgeport and Lee Vining. That pioneer spirit is also alive and well in the Mono County Behavioral Health Department, where the staff is urged to be creative and look for new ways to engage clients and provide services.
The result has been the creation of a “Whole Person Wellness Approach” that looks at the totality of the client – not just the mental health side. It started by asking a consumer on each visit if he or she wanted a blood pressure check; from there, staff began tracking weight and surveying consumers on their perceived wellness. Soon, staff was having conversations with clients in a manner they never had before. Both staff and clients began to see the bigger health picture.
“One barrier you need to take off the table is “well, we don’t have money to do it.” It doesn’t take any money to sit down at a table and talk with people. That’s a freebie, with a huge payoff.” With those words, Nevada County Health Director Michael Heggarty sums up their approach to providing a system of care for kids, teens, and their families. They have broken down silos, ignored the barriers and are working across several different organizations to provide a network of services that starts with mental health, but has grown into much, much more.
To be honest, it started with a cluster of teen suicides in Nevada County—tragedies that while not statistically out of the norm, hit very close together and very close to home. They made people realize they needed to do more to reach out to kids and their families. And so even as funding for collaboration dried up, they collaborated. There is a monthly meeting that includes the leaders of the County Health Department, the Superintendent of Schools, the Courts, Probation, Child Welfare and others agencies that have contact with kids and their families. That trickles down to weekly meetings among other staffers.
In the inner sanctum of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Offices, there’s a display case that houses numerous department artifacts dating back to the 1800s: photographs, badges and handwritten incident logs help tell the department’s storied past. Captain Chris Lathrop likes to stop and take in the department’s rich history. But Captain Lathrop’s focus is in the future – and one mobile application in particular that is making a big difference in how the department fights crime.
The mobile app developed in-house by Ventura County’s IT Department is called iCop – and it’s been a great asset to Sheriff’s Department deputies and investigators.
When Riverside County Medical Center staff compared its rate of surgical site infections (SSI) to other hospitals around the country, they realized they had an issue. The hospital’s ratio of infections was more than 200 percent above the recognized baseline. Something had to be done; something was done. And the result has been an amazing turnaround for the Medical Center that has resulted in improved patient care, heightened patient safety and a reduction in medical care costs.
To combat this high infection rate, the hospital formed a team consisting of surgeons, anesthesiologists, OR nurses, infection preventionists, housekeeping personnel and researchers. The team developed protocol for staff and education plan for patients to follow. Beyond following new protocols, staff found themselves participating in a cultural change.
The program is designed to let mothers who are going through alcohol and substance abuse treatment live with their children in a safe and supportive environment. Keeping these families together is usually far better for the children, and the prospect of keeping their kids often provides moms with the extra incentive they need to complete the program successfully. It saves money for the County because the alternative is often foster care for the kids and incarceration for the moms.
Clean and Sober living was originally run by a faith-based non-profit organization and funded partially by Stanislaus County. The local dollars allowed the program to get federal grants that made up most of its budget. But in 2008, 2009 and 2010 the recession forced Stanislaus County, and many other local governments, to make some difficult decisions. They had to cut sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and other necessities, and eventually, they had to eliminate funding for Clean and Sober Living too.