A Collaboration Making a Difference on 'Whole-Person Health'
The Concord community has benefited for years from an innovative collaboration between Concord Hospital and Riverbend Community Mental Health to address every patient’s physical and behavioral health needs.
In 2020, the relationship proved invaluable as the community continued to face a devastating opioid crisis, compounded by increased anxiety about COVID-19 and disruptions it caused for nearly everyone.
“We are all experiencing a similar trauma right now,” said Lisa Madden, Concord Hospital’s Vice President of Behavioral Health and Riverbend’s President and CEO. “How we cope with this crisis, how we manage the trauma may be different for people, but the trauma is around all of us.”
Madden’s dual titles are a clear statement about the importance the Hospital and Riverbend place on ‘whole-person health,’ ensuring that behavioral health issues, addiction and physical ailments are addressed together.
Concord is the only community in the state where the head of the community mental health organization also is a member of the local hospital’s senior leadership.
In addition, behavioral health counselors are part of the care teams at Concord Hospital Medical Group (CHMG) primary care practices. Riverbend’s psychiatric team works hand-in-hand with the Hospital for Emergency Department, inpatient and outpatient care.
“Concord Hospital has not strayed from its commitment to behavioral health in decades because it really is seen as being core to whole-person health and whole-person care, which is certainly highlighted now in the pandemic,” Madden said.
Madden said the need for behavioral health and addiction services is extremely high, and has been for some time. The opioid crisis has not taken a break for COVID-19, and the pandemic has taken a toll on many others. People of all ages, young children to the elderly, have lost their typical support systems or outlets for stress because of being isolated, not able to interact with playmates or even go away to college. Madden fears more people will need help as the effects of pandemic related job losses cause evictions or foreclosures.
“The state of behavioral health during this whole pandemic is very fragile,” she said. “There’s a lot that needs to be done.”
The changing times have highlighted the strength of the relationship between Riverbend and Concord Hospital.
“There is open communication,” Madden said. “There is frequent strategic planning about how we can be available and supportive, how the professionals from Riverbend can support the patients and providers at the Hospital. That’s an ongoing, daily discussion.”