Communities of Care

MHVC comprises seven counties of great diversity, each with inspiring examples of Communities of Care. We will be sharing partner stories here, and we hope you will contact us at with even more.

Baby Café in Rockland Brings Model Program to New York

Site opening in August for National Breastfeeding Month

Recognizing breastfeeding education and support as a need in its communities, Rockland County Department of Health is funding “Baby Cafés” as part of a $950,000 state grant received in Spring 2017. The first site, located in the Spring Valley Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) office, will be the first Baby Café in the region, according to Sharen Medrano, Lower Hudson Valley Perinatal Network (LHVPN) Breastfeeding Manager. LHVPN is doing outreach now, and the site will open in mid-August, during National Breastfeeding Month. The grant will fund additional Baby Cafés in underserved communities in Ramapo and Clarkstown.

“The Baby Café model has existed across the country for some time now through Baby Café USA, which is a non-profit organization that helps coordinate a network of drop-in cafes where pregnant and breastfeeding mothers can get free support from trained staff and can share experiences,” said Medrano. “We are tailoring our services to our diverse community, which has many culture and languages, including Creole and Spanish.”

The Spring Valley WIC Baby Café will be open every Tuesday, and welcomes all Rockland residents. In addition to providing a breastfeeding-friendly space, Medrano, a board-certified lactation consultant, and WIC peer counselors will be on-site for practical help and education. “In addition to the lactation professionals on site, we want to establish a network of volunteers to expand our reach; this can include nursing moms or grandmothers who have a lot of experience. We encourage anyone with an interest to contact us,” said Medrano.

“We want this to be an inviting, welcoming space where moms can gather and get help from professionals, but most importantly from each other,” Medrano continued. “By talking with other moms and sharing their experiences, they realize they are not alone and they are building better ties within their community.

If you are interested in volunteering or want more information, contact Sharen Medrano at

BH and PCP Partnership Saving Lives through Blood Tests

Two days, 81 tests, HRHCare on-site at Access: Supports for Living

When Access: Supports for Living (Access) and HRHCare team up, even an office conference room can become a life saving resource. That’s what happened when the primary care providers (PCPs) from HRHCare set up three stations in the conference room at Access in Middletown to conduct blood tests as part of an Integrated Care Metabolic Monitoring Drive.

“Through our participation in DSRIP and in the MAX Series with HRHCare, we understand the connection between our behavioral health patients with complex behaviors and the need for routine and basic primary care, especially bloodwork for those on antipsychotic medications,” said Katariina Hoaas, LCSW, Access Senior Vice President for Clinical Services. “So we asked HRHCare what they can do to help us get those patients scheduled for bloodwork, and this project was the result.”

“Our target was modest -- 27 patients,” Hoaas said, “so we were very gratified to perform 81 tests over the two days.” On May 30 and June 6,  2017, HRHCare set up three stations in the Access conference room, a PCP in an adjacent office, and two more HRHCare staff at a registration desk for intake and paperwork. Two tests -- hemoglobin A1c for blood sugar, and LDL cholesterol -- were performed. Results were immediately reviewed with the patient in the private office by the PCP.

“We credit our care management staff, counseling center therapists, and psychiatrists with the great response,” said Hoaas.”Their enthusiasm, and their efforts to get their patients in on those days, made the biggest difference.” Those conversations included emphasizing how life-saving the tests could be. “We went to extreme measures to get people here,” Hoaas continued. “We arranged for transportation, and care managers even picked people up at their homes. Our staff understands how significant these tests are.”

The testing revealed eight persons who had previously undiagnosed high A1C. Another, who was not taking his medications since he thought they were making him further depressed, accepted counseling and will now be visiting a nutritionist to get his blood levels under control.

The partners hope to repeat the screening in the future. “We have shown how we can change outcomes for our behavioral health patients by improving their overall health,” said Hoaas. “This project also showed us how important it is to get the buy-in and support of our own staff and clinicians. Their ‘esprit de corps,’ and the continued excellent partnership with HRHCare, were at the heart of our success.”


3 Executive Boulevard
3rd Floor
Yonkers NY 10701