2018 Year in review: partnerships, hard work and accomplishments
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.