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CFHA 2014: Looking Back to Move Forward

Posted By Parinda Khatri, Thursday, January 09, 2014

(This is the first blog in an ongoing series that highlights what CFHA leaders are thinking and planning for the future. Check back in the future for more. The first post is by Dr. Parinda Khatri, current CFHA president.)

As I start 2014 as President of CFHA, I can’t help but remember my first CFHA conference: Newport, Rhode Island, November 2006. I remember it was November because it was really, really cold (at least for someone born in India and raised in Southeast. Those of you from cold climates feel free to smirk).  I was a few years into my job as Director of Integrated Care at Cherokee Health Systems (CHS), a comprehensive community healthcare organization that is a Federally Qualified Health Center and Community Mental Health Center in east Tennessee. While we at CHS were marching forward with integrating behavioral health into primary care, at the time there were few avenues for learning, sharing, and talking about integration and collaborative care in the usual circles.  At that CFHA conference, I was able to learn, share, and talk about integration and collaboration with brilliant people doing amazing things for two whole days.  It was exhilarating, validating, and comforting.  I had found my professional home.

Since then, integration and collaborative care have experienced exponential growth as progressive approaches to transforming healthcare delivery, health education, and scholarly inquiry.   The concepts that were considered "novel” by all but a handful of vanguard healthcare professionals have morphed into commonly used terms and ideas highlighted in countless conferences, presentations, publications, and initiatives at the local, national, and international level.  Integrated and collaborative care, an area which developed organically at the grass roots level by people in the trenches, now attracts a cadre of clinicians, researchers, educators, and administrative professionals from a wide range of settings. 

Like an adolescent transitioning from childhood to adulthood, the field of integrated care is exploring and testing limits as it grapples with its identity and role in the world.   Like the field, CFHA is also in transition.  Initially an entity founded and led by visionaries who gave their time, energy, money, and probably some tears just to get it off the ground, CFHA is now a formal association with 500 members, an annual conference, affiliated journal, and a host of initiatives in support of its mission.   It has a basic governance structure, with staff leadership (including a stellar executive director, Polly Kurtz) and board of directors. Now, CFHA is on the cusp of its next developmental challenge – to transition from a budding society to a mature organization with a refined governance structure, sound financial footing, and well-designed programs while it maintains its foundational mission. To remain viable, relevant, and grow, CFHA must, in the words of Jim Collins, "preserve the core while it stimulates progress.” 


No sweat, right?

Well, maybe some sweat (okay, a lot of sweat) but hopefully also some movement forward.  To this end, we will be rolling out several initiatives to meet the evolving needs of CFHA’s membership and expand the organization’s impact on clinical service delivery, research, policy, and education. Here are a few upcoming ventures: 

1) In January, CFHA will launch two special interest groups (SIGs), a Families and Health SIG co-chaired by Randall Reitz and Kaitlin Leckie, and a Primary Care Behavioral Health (PCBH) SIG co-chaired by Chris Hunter and Jeff Reiter.  These SIGS will provide a forum for active dialogue, knowledge dissemination, and networking for CFHA members. If one of your favorite parts of the CFHA conference are the "post-session” hallway huddles with colleagues, these SIGs are a great way to keep the conversation going throughout the year. Be on the lookout for information on regular conference calls and other initiatives from these SIGs in the coming month. 

2) CFHA is also actively working on a policy agenda that will identify the priority issues for advocacy at the local and national level. If we, as educators, clinicians, researchers, and administrators in the field, truly believe that integrated behavioral and primary care is critical to an effective and efficient health care delivery system, we will have to be vigorously involved in policy change in this arena. This policy agenda is intended to be a stimulus and guide for the organization as well as individual members to help transform the rules, regulations, and procedures that affect the work we do every day.

There is more to come. CFHA’s 2014 annual conference (Oct. 16-18 – save the date!) is shaping up to be a pivotal event, strategically planned to be in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., during this year of ACA implementation and this era of healthcare reform. CFHA will continue to promote dialogue and knowledge dissemination through its blogs and journal, Family, Systems, and Health, through the course of the year.  
You will play a key role in CFHA’s strength and evolution 

Because CFHA is a member organization and is essentially a product of its membership, we ask that each of you become more engaged with CFHA.  Whether you write a blog, submit an article to the journal, become involved in the SIGs, participate in the conference, or contribute to CFHA’s mission through other activities, you will play a key role in CFHA’s strength and evolution as an organization. In turn, you will be part of a group of professionals who share your mission and passion to improve the health and quality of life of your community. If you, like me, think of CFHA as your professional home, the reward you will receive, professionally and personally, will far outweigh your investment. And that is a pretty good way to start off 2014. 

Happy New Year!!


Parinda Khatri, Ph.D., is Director of Integrated Care at Cherokee Health Systems, a comprehensive community healthcare organization with 56 clinical sites in 13 counties in Tennessee.  She earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Behavioral Medicine at Duke University Medical Center.  As Director of Integrated Care at Cherokee Health Systems, she provides oversight and guidance on clinical quality, program development and management, workforce development, clinical research, and clinical operations for blended primary care and behavioral health services within the organization. Dr. Khatri also trains, consults, and presents extensively on integrated care. She also leads Cherokee's APA Accredited Psychology Internship Program and APPIC member Health Psychology Post-Doctoral Fellowship.  Dr. Khatri is currently President of the Collaborative Family Healthcare Association.  She also serves on the National Integration Academy Council for the Academy for Integrated Mental Health and Primary Care, is Co-Chair of the Behavioral Health Special Interest Group for the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, a member of the Behavioral Health Steering committee for the National Quality Forum, and a member of the Research Advisory Committee for the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers for Health Disparities at Morehouse School of Medicine. 

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