With seven counties, three PPSs, and demographic and geographic challenges that further complicate health care delivery, the Hudson Valley region does not have a “one size fits all” answer to improving  health outcomes. MHVC realized from the beginning of DSRIP that the keys to reaching these diverse communities are the community organizations that understand local populations and problems; that have long-term relationships with other public, private, and religious organizations that serve their community; and that know the local health care system -- including its gaps -- well.

Creating New Community- and County-Wide Networks

Crisis Stabilization Mapping

The goal of the Crisis Stabilization Project (3.a.ii) is to provide readily accessible behavioral health crisis services that will allow access to appropriate levels of service and providers, supporting a rapid de-escalation of the patient’s crisis. MHVC is part of a dynamic collaboration of three PPSs — MHVC, Westchester Medical Center (WMC), and Refuah Community Health Collaboration — that was formed to take on this challenge in a unified, collective way.

Over 40 partners participated in developing the foundation of the project and in producing an exhaustive report on the honest opportunities and challenges of the project. The project highlights the power of three PPSs to talk to state government about what needs to change, and to be a template for other regions in the state and other parts of the country.

To date, crisis mapping sessions have been held in Westchester and Orange counties and will be planned for the remaining counties of the PPS. The interactive sessions give participants new understanding of roles and relationships between, among others, hospitals, government, first responders, providers at all levels, and community organizations, as they rationalize services and interactions in five key areas: mobile, respite beds, intensive services, and follow-up services. New awareness of who does what, when, and how it impacts others, will lead to better patient outcomes.

MAX Series

The state’s Medicaid Accelerated Exchange (MAX) Series Program provides a high-intensity, fast-track mechanism to effect immediate and long-lasting results in a community. We are fortunate that two teams of MHVC partners participated in the first MAX Series: St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital and St. Joseph’s Medical Center. While both teams successfully engaged high utilizers in their hospital systems, St. Luke’s focused on high utilizers in the emergency department (ED), and St. Joseph’s on inpatient (IP) admissions. MHVC partner, HealthQuest, has been selected to participate in the current MAX Series round.

The MAX Series is a quality improvement initiative and an intensive eight-month learning collaborative aligned with DSRIP projects and measures. Participating organizations create multidisciplinary “Action Teams” comprised of subject matter experts both from within their organizations and external partnering organizations. The collaborative is phase-based and includes an assessment and preparation phase, followed by three full-day workshops and intermediary improvement cycles, concluding with a reporting period.

Public Health Campaigns

Anti-Tobacco Marketing Campaign

The Hudson Region DSRIP Public Health Council, a partnership between the Montefiore Hudson Valley Collaborative, Westchester Medical Center and Refuah Community Health Collaborative, has developed an anti-tobacco marketing campaign targeted to teens and their caregivers. The campaign is focused on the harmful effects of electronic smoking devices like vaporizers, e-cigarettes and electronic hookahs.

The ads, available for download here, have been distributed to Hudson Valley middle and high schools throughout the region. Local schools have used the ads to enhance student involvement in national initiatives like the Great American Smokeout, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, and Kick Butts Day.

Smoking Survey

In order understand the status of tobacco cessation efforts in its partner network and to identify areas for intervention and support, MHVC conducted an assessment of readiness and capacity to establish and enhance a continuum of tobacco cessation services. The “Tobacco Cessation and Tobacco-Free Policy Survey” of MHVC partner organizations covered three general areas: patients, employees, and smoke-free policies. The major finding was that there is a high rate of tobacco use among both employees and patients at behavioral health (BH) sites, while integrated sites (clinical and behavioral) reported higher levels of uncertainty regarding patient smoking rates. Integrated sites also offer the greatest mix of cessation services. In terms of smoke-free policies, clinical sites and integrated sites have the strictest smoke-free policies, and a greater proportion of BH sites allow outdoor smoking in designated places. Enforcement is the most frequent barrier identified by all types of sites. The survey results will help MHVC tailor its consultation and technical assistance for network partners.

Cancer Screening

The leading cause of premature death, and the second leading cause of overall death, in the Hudson Valley is cancer. Our Community Needs Assessment (CNA) showed there are “hot spots” for certain cancers in certain regions; not surprisingly, screening rates for these cancers are lower in the Hudson Valley than State average. Given this gap, MHVC intends to target cancer prevention (particularly among minority populations) for preventive care initiatives. Central to our project plan is incorporating the New York State Prevention Agenda goals to improve preventive care, particularly among minority populations.

MHVC Innovation Fund

Follow the progress of this exciting program on our new Innovation Driving Change page.

Gas-up for GASO: Are You Ready for the “Great American Smokeout”?

Center for a Tobacco-Free Hudson Valley breaking down barriers this month and beyond

The Great American Smokeout (GASO) may be on the calendar for November, but tobacco dependence treatment can save lives all year round. “Tobacco use is a public health issue,” said Didi Raxworthy, Director of the Center for a Tobacco Free-Hudson Valley. “This year marks the 40th anniversary for the Great American Smokeout, and we now know so much more about how to best help people to quit smoking. Four decades of research proves that medical and behavioral health professionals have the most impact with this process by combining counseling and quit-smoking medications.”

The Center is a program of the American Lung Association funded by the NYS Department of Health Bureau of Tobacco Control program. It works collaboratively with health care provider organizations, the NYS Smokers’ Quitline, and community groups, to implement sustainable tobacco dependence treatment policies dedicated to reducing smoking rates within underserved populations that continue to suffer from higher smoking rates.“Evidence shows that successful quit rates nearly double, particularly for high-risk populations, when medical providers systematize their tobacco dependence treatment protocols. Therefore our focus is helping organizations write strong policies aligned with the Public Health Service Guidelines to outline tobacco dependence treatment work within existing care,” says Raxworthy. Ideal protocols support tobacco treatment coaching, motivational interviewing techniques, and seamless prescribing. “In order to do this, the Center offers coaching tips and techniques with scripting, along with comprehensive sample policies and pharmacotherapy guides. There are many success stories in the Hudson Valley: This is hard work and takes a policy-driven team focus from the provider, but it can be done,” emphasized Raxworthy.

A great part of the Center’s work is provider education to break down barriers and arm clinicians with tools to help their patients and clients quit smoking. “The December 2016 New York Medicaid benefits expansion eliminates barriers for providers and support the realities that smokers face with quitting a strong nicotine addiction,” Raxworthy continued. (Link here to the Medicaid document, with changes on page 7.) “There are no longer restrictions on the number of times the prescription benefit can be ordered during a year. In support of the evidence that combination therapy increases quit rates by 50-70%, two different nicotine replacement therapies can now be prescribed together.” explained Raxworthy.

“Having this information helps build confidence and add efficiencies to processes, enabling providers to be more effective in assisting patients and clients to quit,” said Dr. Damara Gutnick, MHVC’s Medical Director. “Didi Raxworthy and the Center are a great resource for our MHVC partners and I encourage organizations to reach out for guidance and support to develop strong tobacco cessation policies and protocols.” said Gutnick. For more information, contact Didi Raxworthy, Director, Center for a Tobacco Free-Hudson Valley, American Lung Association of the Northeast, 914 407-2214, Didi.Raxworthy@lung.org.

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