The ultimate goal of the GCBHRC is to give voice to each of the community partners while working toward the goals set forth through the settlement parameters. The GCBHRC has held and continues to conduct extensive discussions with the multitude of players in the communities of Mobile and Baldwin counties in order to: assess their needs and priorities, determine what the GCBHRC’s role will be in helping to meet those needs, and explain what the dictates of the settlement are in order to establish goals and limitations. Through these discussions, it has been determined that in order to best serve the community, the GCBHRC must remain flexible and work with the fluidity of the community stakeholders’ needs and changing environments. Consequently, the nature of our work with each project is subject to ongoing revision as we follow the Plan, Do, Study, Act method of project development and improvement.
Federally Qualified Health Centers
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services definition of federally qualified health centers (FQHCs):
“Federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) include all organizations receiving grants under Section 330 of the Public Health Service Act (PHS). FQHCs qualify for enhanced reimbursement from Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other benefits. FQHCs must serve an underserved area or population, offer a sliding fee scale, provide comprehensive services, have an ongoing quality assurance program, and have a governing board of directors. Certain tribal organizations and FQHC Look-Alikes (an organization that meets PHS Section 330 eligibility requirements, but does not receive grant funding) also may receive special Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.”
One goal of the GCBHRC is to increase access to mental and behavioral healthcare (MBH) services through integrated health care practices in FQHCs and look-alike health centers. Currently, we are working with the Mobile County Health Department and Franklin Primary Health Center. Our activities include:
- Integrated Health Teams: The establishment of Integrated Healthcare Teams within the healthcare systems by MBH professionals working alongside primary healthcare professionals, both screening for MBH needs in a routine fashion and responding to crises as they arise in the healthcare setting.
- Strengthening Infrastructure: Currently, this equates to helping strengthen the electronic health records (EHR) system to include coding, billing, and scheduling for MBH sessions.
- Workforce Development: The GCBHRC is committed to enhancing the evidence based competency of existing and developing mental and behavioral health providers by facilitating or offering training and in-services to social service staff and non-MBH health FQ staff as well as developing a network of locally certified trainers of evidence based practices. Our workforce development efforts also entail supporting Center and FQ personnel in their efforts to further their professional licensures to ensure the highest quality of care delivery to the patients of each clinic.
- Community Needs Assessment: The GCBHRC is collecting data to be analyzed to determine the needs of the community and to establish a baseline of the mental health status of the area. This is being conducted in a manner which includes as many community “voices” as possible including an integration questionnaire, needs assessment questionnaire, literature review, and data analysis.
- Project Assessment: Data analysis of the information coming from the GCBHRC’s work with clients in the FQHCs will continue to inform the Center in community needs and evaluate the effectiveness of the GCBHRC’s activities.
Presently, the GCBHRC works with the two local primary public schools systems (Mobile and Baldwin County Public Schools) to develop greater systematic and coordinated mental and behavioral health care for children and families in south Alabama. Our goal is to increase children’s access to and utilization of evidenced based mental and behavioral health services within identified high need schools.
- Mental and Behavioral Health Providers on Graduation Teams: School-based field teams in both counties have been incorporated into the state-wide push to increase graduation rates through a national initiative. Specifically, the mission of the Alabama High School Promotion Coach and Promotion Team Initiative is to test a model that combines use of early warning indicators (attendance, behavior, course-passing and credit accrual, or the ABCs) with a model for organizing a team of teachers, counselors, and other student support staff to increase on-time promotion of ninth graders to tenth grade and to set the stage for their continued on-time progress in future years. The Initiative is a four-year research study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education, based on a 2012 award to the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins University and to the Alabama State Department of Education. We are working with the school systems to encourage the inclusion mental and behavioral health screenings and services as part of helping at-risk youth graduate on-time.
- Therapeutic Services: Social workers and psychology doctoral students deliver therapeutic services both one-on-one and in group settings along a single feeder pattern (elementary, middle and high school) in Mobile and at the high school level in Baldwin.
- School Climate Assessment: At the request of Baldwin County Public schools we have developed and are utilizing online surveys and focus groups to assist in gauging school climate.
- Mental Health Literacy Campaign: Baldwin County Public Schools have also requested assistance in developing an education campaign which focuses on positive character traits, personal and community resilience.
- Project Assessment: Data analysis of the information coming from the GCBHRC’s work with clients in the schools will continue to inform the Center in community needs and evaluate the effectiveness of the GCBHRC’s activities.