“Shelli James [HealthTeamWorks Facilitator] has been an incredible resource and connector for Jewish Family Service.  Shelli listened to the ideas I had and our strategic plan goals and went to work making calls and introducing me to other community agencies that were relevant. She helped me with exploring telehealth and other agency projects. She has valuable insight and knowledge of healthcare concerns in Colorado.

Stacy Weisberg

Director of Mental Health, Jewish Family Service

In March, Center for Health Progress awarded HealthTeamWorks a year-long contract funded by the Kaiser Permanente Community Health Fund of The Denver Foundation to support six Safety Net Physical and Behavioral Health Centers across Colorado. Through the contract, HealthTeamWorks is providing technical support to these providers of behavioral health support, physical care for children and adults, dental care, vision screening and glasses, employment services, refugee support, a food pantry and more. Through monthly on-site practice visits HealthTeamWorks’ Sr. Healthcare Facilitator, Shelli James, facilitates workflow studies, connections with community resources, implementation of telehealth, electronic health record capacity analysis, team building, and behavioral health integration to identify high need operational areas and tailor improvement programs for each site. The resulting improvement aims include addressing financial stability, maximizing the role of interns, using data to drive improvement, improving patient flow through the clinic, expanding behavioral health services, depression screening and follow-up processes, and increasing reach to the community.  Of the participating sites, in particular, Jewish Family Service (JFS), has made great strides in addressing gaps in behavioral health care for Medicaid patients.

Founded in 1872, JFS is a nonsectarian, nonprofit human services agency serving metro Denver and Boulder. JFS provides quality mental health counseling to children and adults, helps seniors maintain a high quality of life, offers training and job placement to people with barriers to employment, and provides food and financial aid to individuals and families in crisis. Their team of 25 mental health professionals (including psychiatrists) offers support for those suffering from anxiety, depression, grief, post-traumatic stress, and other chronic mental health challenges. JFS provided treatment to more than 1,700 children, adolescents & adults in fiscal year 2018. JFS accepts, Medicaid, Medicare, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), private insurance and self-pay.  A sliding fee schedule is available to those with limited financial resources.

Stacey Weisberg, JFS Director of Mental Health Services and Elena Pernitz, JFS Mental Health Operations Manager assessed and developed plans to address gaps of care for Medicaid patients. They found gaps in care were due largely to limited access to behavioral health providers as well as a need for more long-term therapy options for patients. JFS has identified five health organizations with which they have offered JFS’s comprehensive services including behavioral health open access to their underserved patients.  To further expand the reach of their services JFS is exploring implementing behavioral health telehealth services to deliver care to patients with transportation or mobility issues. 

As the program progresses, the six Safety Net Physical and Behavioral Health Centers continue to address social determinants of health, the economic and social impact of where one lives, as well as access to physical and behavioral care by filling gaps for the most vulnerable patients in our community.

© Center for Health Progress 2018