2018 Year in re­view: part­ner­ships, hard work and ac­com­plish­ments

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - By Melanie Dal­las High­land Rivers Health

High­land Rivers Health is one of Ge­or­gia’s nearly two dozen Com­mu­nity Ser­vice Boards (CSB), agen­cies des­ig­nated by the Depart­ment of Be­hav­ioral Health and De­vel­op­men­tal Dis­abil­i­ties (DBHDD) to pro­vide treat­ment, sup­port and re­cov­ery ser­vices in lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties for in­di­vid­u­als with men­tal ill­ness, sub­stance use dis­or­ders, and in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties.

High­land Rivers pro­vides these ser­vices in a 12-county area of north­west Ge­or­gia that is ap­prox­i­mately 4,400 square miles and has a pop­u­la­tion of nearly 1 mil­lion. Like the state’s other CSBs, we are a safe­tynet provider, help­ing to en­sure ev­ery­one has ac­cess to crit­i­cal be­hav­ioral health ser­vices. It is an im­por­tant job and one High­land Rivers takes very se­ri­ously.

But High­land Rivers does much more than sim­ply pro­vide ser­vices at the out­pa­tient clin­ics you may see in your com­mu­nity. We ac­tively work with com­mu­nity part­ners – courts, jails, schools and many oth­ers – not only to im­prove the lives of in­di­vid­u­als, but to im­prove the qual­ity of life in the com­mu­ni­ties we serve.

As 2018 comes to a close, I wanted to share some of the many ac­tiv­i­ties and ac­com­plish­ments that help demon­strate the depth and breadth of our ser­vices, how we con­tin­u­ally work to en­hance our ser­vices and our deep in­volve­ment in the com­mu­ni­ties we serve. Dur­ing 2018, High­land Rivers Health:

Es­tab­lished a re­la­tion­ship with the Whit­field/Mur­ray cir­cuit Men­tal Health Court and drafted a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing and pro­fes­sional ser­vices agree­ment.

Added peer nav­i­ga­tors in the Bar­tow and Pauld­ing out­pa­tient clin­ics to en­hance the ex­pe­ri­ence of in­di­vid­u­als pre­sent­ing for ser­vices.

Spon­sored three free com­mu­nity screen­ings – in Chero­kee, Gor­don and Whit­field coun­ties – of “Sui­cide: The Rip­ple Ef­fect” through the Gar­rett Lee Smith con­tract.

Added three ad­vanced prac­tice reg­is­tered nurses and two ad­di­tional reg­is­tered nurses to im­prove qual­ity of care in Floyd County.

Ex­panded clinic space and added Satur­day hours to ac­com­mo­date growth in de­mand for ser­vices in Pauld­ing County.

Ex­panded agency’s Em­ployee As­sis­tance Pro­gram provider con­tract with Mo­hawk In­dus­tries by eight hours per week to en­sure ad­e­quate cov­er­age.

Par­tic­i­pated with the North­west Ge­or­gia Sys­tem of Care Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil to cre­ate a school-based men­tal health tool kit.

Pro­vided staff to serve as chair and sec­re­tary of the Polk County Lo­cal In­ter­a­gency Plan­ning Team in or­der to strengthen com­mu­nity re­la­tion­ships and in­crease at­ten­dance.

Achieved a score of 116 (Ex­em­plary) on the DBHDD Sup­ported Em­ploy­ment Fidelity Au­dit, adding 67 ad­di­tional sup­ported em­ploy­ment slots and help­ing 55 in­di­vid­u­als find em­ploy­ment.

As­sisted 155 in­di­vid­u­als in tran­si­tion­ing into and main­tain­ing hous­ing through the Ge­or­gia Hous­ing Voucher Pro­gram.

Re­duced the need for food stamps and in­creased food re­sources for in­di­vid­u­als re­ceiv­ing In­ten­sive Case Man­age­ment ser­vices by us­ing the Able Body Work­ing Adult law through the Depart­ment of Fam­ily and Chil­dren Ser­vices (DFCS).

Achieved a 50 per­cent di­ver­sion for in­di­vid­u­als pre­sent­ing at Red­mond Re­gional Med­i­cal Cen­ter emer­gency depart­ment in be­hav­ioral health cri­sis through a part­ner­ship with the hos­pi­tal.

Be­gan of­fer­ing Ad­dic­tive Dis­ease Sup­port Ser­vices (ADSS) in Bar­tow, Chero­kee, Floyd, Gor­don, Pauld­ing, Pick­ens, Polk and Whit­field coun­ties.

Pro­vided cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion team (CIT) train­ing to 20 law en­force­ment of­fi­cers across our ser­vice area.

Be­gan the process of ob­tain­ing a waiver from the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (DEA) to im­ple­ment a state-of-the-art Med­i­ca­tion As­sisted Treat­ment (MAT) pro­gram to en­hance the man­age­ment of High­land Rivers’ high vol­ume in­di­vid­u­als with sub­stance use dis­or­ders.

Moved out­pa­tient ser­vices in Cedar­town to the One Door Polk fa­cil­ity, and also com­pleted four ma­jor fa­cil­ity ren­o­va­tions to meet op­er­a­tional needs and com­plete reg­u­la­tory cor­rec­tive ac­tion plans, with less than $25,000 in­vested in the to­tal ren­o­va­tion ex­penses.

Of course, this list barely scratches the sur­face of ev­ery­thing we did, and con­tinue to do, to help in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties achieve re­cov­ery. High­land Rivers Health is proud to be part of so many out­stand­ing com­mu­ni­ties in north­west Ge­or­gia, and we look for­ward to build­ing on these part­ner­ships and achieve­ments in 2019.

Melanie Dal­las is a li­censed pro­fes­sional coun­selor and CEO of High­land Rivers Health, which pro­vides treat­ment and re­cov­ery ser­vices for in­di­vid­u­als with men­tal ill­ness, sub­stance use dis­or­ders, and in­tel­lec­tual and de­vel­op­men­tal dis­abil­i­ties in a 12-county re­gion of north­west Ge­or­gia that in­cludes Bar­tow, Chero­kee, Floyd, Fan­nin, Gilmer, Gor­don, Har­al­son, Mur­ray, Pauld­ing, Pick­ens, Polk and Whit­field coun­ties.


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