ONE Community Health’s Lucas O’Laughlin (left) heads up the behavioral health department.
When it comes to building a vibrant, thriving community, the health of its people plays a vital role. But health isn’t just about visiting the doctor. It’s about treating the whole person, recognizing the importance of integrated practices that value medical, dental and even behavioral health — and that’s exactly why behavioral health is now one of the fastest growing areas of service provided by One Community Health (OCH).
The Columbia River Gorge’s first and only nonprofit Federally Qualified Health Center, OCH has been busy over the past couple of years strategically growing its behavioral health program. Formally founded in February 2016, the behavioral health department has evolved from one employee, Behavioral Health Manager Lucas O’Laughlin, LCSW MAC CADC III, to eight staff members. The team includes masters-degree-level mental health clinicians (“Behavioral Health Consultants”); registered nurse case managers; certified alcohol and drug counselors; and two brand-new behavioral health consultants, Judy Villalobos, MSW and Maja Addington LPC, who are now providing care at the School-Based Health Center at Hood River Valley High School. The School-Based Health Care provides integrated medical and behavioral health services to all students within the Hood River County School District.
“We’re really excited about having two behavioral health consultants at the School-Based Health Center because evidence-based research tells us education, prevention and early intervention make a huge difference in the health and wellness of our youth,” O’Laughlin said. “That said, we’re also equally energized by the strength of our behavioral health program, specifically our ability to provide expert consultation to the OCH medical and dental teams and the patients they serve in the Columbia River Gorge Community.”
The formation and expansion of the behavioral health department and its role in supporting whole-person care has garnered the accolades of the Columbia Gorge Health Council in Partnership With PacificSource Community Solutions Coordinated Care Organization (CCO). In early August, the integrated behavioral health and substance use services underwent careful scrutiny by the CCO. The goal of this visit was to assess how the effort ranks according to a stringent six-tier continuum of clinical integration framework defined by the Integrated Practice Assessment Tool (IPAT). Almost immediately after the visit, Dawn Creach, MS, consultant to PacificSource Community Solutions, expressed her impressions of O’Laughlin and his team.
“I work with primary care clinics across Oregon, and One Community Health is among the most advanced I’ve seen in terms of providing whole-person care that meets the needs of the community,” Creach says. “They are on the cutting edge of health care transformation and will continue leading innovation in this area.”
Now, O’Laughlin and his team have set their sights on the next, highest benchmark achievable: Tier 6 status. Part of this will require the strengthening of systems and processes more recently put in place. The goal of full integration is to develop a culture and practice that is distinct from either traditional medical or mental health care, where a patient-centered team approach is applied to all patients. It will also embolden the ongoing cultural shift, taking place at OCH through trauma-informed practices, a unique approach to supporting staff and patients alike through a set of practices that is working to advance individual and organizational resilience with respect, hope and healing.
“Health care is going through a paradigm shift in terms of how it’s being provided,” O’Laughlin said. “Research has demonstrated that integrating behavioral health into the medical and dental setting provides a platform for better health outcomes, improves access to care, overcomes stigma —all while reducing overall costs. Operating from a place of compassion and understanding supports the patients and the community in a journey of health and wellness. At OCH, we are doing that, providing a progressive model of care that addresses the interconnected nature of our physical, mental and social health.”
Of note, key partners in the success of OCH’s behavioral health achievements include: the State of Oregon, Health and Human Services, Hood River Valley School District, Gorge CCO, Mid-Columbia Center for Living, Creating Resiliency in The Gorge and Mid-Columbia Medical Center.
Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., it was founded in 1986 and, today, has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home. OCH currently provides services to over 11,000 patients. In addition, OCH excels in providing proactive educational programs and support that sustain its integrated approach to health and wellbeing. Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania Counties. For more information, visit: http://www.onecommunityhealth.org/.