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CFHA--A Foundation Perspective

Posted By Mary Jo Dike, Thursday, January 13, 2011
Updated: Friday, June 10, 2011

In 2008, I was tasked with taking over and breathing new life into the Foundation’s initiative on "Integrating Mental Health and Medical Services”. The initiative began several years earlier and was developed as a result of hearing Kentuckians tell us that we need increased access to health care for underserved and rural communities and that services should be delivered in a less fragmented way. I’m not a health care expert, "I have an MBA”, I thought. "How am I going to go about this?”

My first move was to ask a friend and colleague, Dr. Nancy G. Moore, Executive Director for Governance Affairs at APA. She said, "You need to talk to Ben Miller” – end of sentence. Ben who? Okay, so I email Ben Miller and two seconds later I had a response and thus, new life was breathed into the Foundation’s initiative.

Ben conferred with me on this initiative and spent time listening to the issues faced by Foundation grantees – The Foundation funded primary care and community mental health center demonstration sites in Kentucky working to integrate mental health and medical services. We learned that these sites shared many of the same challenges experienced by sites across the country. Ben started opening doors to resources, people and information; providing me and Foundation grantees with opportunities for training, technical assistance and guidance on tackling regulatory and policy barriers.

The biggest door he opened for me and the Foundation was to the Collaborative Family Health Care Association. Whew, that name is a mouthful. It’s almost as long as Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. I was grateful to learn everyone calls it "CFHA”. I attended my first CFHA conference in 2008 in Colorado. It was instant – love at first site – everything I could ever want to know about integrating health care services was contained within this "small but mighty” organization.

I remember the first session I attended – it was a "Pre-Con” with Dr. Wayne Katon on "Evolving Models of Collaborative Care” – WOW, what a way to start a conference! My awareness and knowledge of the fundamentals, research and models of collaborative care went from zero to sixty in 3 days.

In the months following, I began funneling what I learned to our grantees and other key stakeholders in Kentucky. The Foundation began sponsoring tracks on integrated care at health care professional meetings in Kentucky; provided the Certificate Program in Primary Care Behavioral Health to Foundation grantees; and formed an Integrated Care Action Team (ICAT) to identify and seek to address regulatory and policy barriers to integrating services.

Because CFHA and its network of members had been such a tremendous resource for me, it was a no-brainer when I learned that hosting the 2010 CFHA Annual Conference in Louisville might be an option – I jumped on it and quickly identified Kentucky-based leadership to chair and serve on the planning committee. My colleagues (Drs. Baretta Casey and Sheila Schuster) were delighted when the Board voted to hold their conference in Louisville, and we immediately got to work as the 2010 Annual Conference Co-Chairs.

From the Foundation’s perspective this was a wonderful opportunity to bring the definitive organization for collaborative and integrated care to Kentucky. For Foundation grantees and others in Kentucky who are working on advancing these models of care, having local access to this conference was a tremendous technical assistance and networking opportunity.

As you can see from the 2010 Conference Report on the CFHA website, the conference was a tremendous success, 60 of the 355 registrants were Kentucky health professionals and students. CFHA membership increased from 3 to 25 active members from Kentucky. What is even more exciting, participants in the conference came from 37 states and 5 countries creating a dynamic learning and networking event.

By becoming involved in CFHA, the Foundation has facilitated linkages in Kentucky to a national network of learning, sharing and moving towards "a comprehensive and cost-effective model of healthcare delivery that integrates mind and body, individual and family, patients, providers and communities.”

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