Creating Paths to Mental and Physical Health

 

 An important partnership in Santa Barbara helps individuals with disabilities or disadvantages overcome barriers to employment or independent living. Called PathPoint, it relies on countywide teamwork to provide physical and psychiatric services including health and medication management as well as community living skills such as cooking, hygiene, safety, banking and money management.

 

Cottage is proud to support the partnership, helping PathPoint clients via its Parish Nursing Community Outreach Program. Supporting the Paths to Recovery initiative within the Mental Health Division of PathPoint, Parish Nursing serves 130 clients with approximately 13 staff, including a psychiatrist, lead clinician, registered nurses and case managers, one of whom specializes in the treatment of substance abuse disorders.

Cori Beveridge and Kim Madden

 

Serving as hinge points in the partnership, case- workers help individuals reach their highest level of independence in the community. This varies from client to client since some have jobs and some take classes, while others have cognitive impairments or mental illness that requires more careful intervention.

 

Cottage nurses manage medications for clients who need that service; they administer intramuscular psychiatric medications and they go into homes to provide care. Commenting on the synergy, PathPoint director Jennifer Newbold says, "In my 25 years with PathPoint I have found this to be a significant improvement in the way we deliver services to seriously mentally ill people. As medical [Cottage] and mental health [PathPoint] care providers we have similar goals in diagnosing and treating illness early and there- fore avoiding crisis care wherever possible."

 

Nurses will also assist case- workers by providing education on physical illness. "We will take a client's vitals and measure blood sugars, provide nutrition and diabetes education, and educate case- workers," says Parish Nurse Kim Madden. "It's our role to advise and assist clients on accessing help in the community with referrals or suggestions from a medical position, and we provide flu vaccinations for clients and CPR training for caseworkers."

 

Funding for the programs comes from the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Services Department of Santa Barbara County, from the St. Francis Foundation and from Cottage Health System. The Paths to Recovery program helps to decrease the number of emergency room visits and extended hospitalizations, and it has been an important factor in combating homelessness.

 

What does her involvement in the program mean to Cori Beveridge? "As a team, we all pull together when a client declines, and we move quickly. This has been a huge factor in the success of the program, as we act both proactively and reactively to care for a client."

 

Clients have progressed from living on the streets and being severely psychotic, to securing housing, finding a job, taking classes and reconnecting with family.

 

"I couldn't be more pleased with this partner- ship and look forward to having more nurses involved and reaching more clients," says Jennifer New- bold. Cori adds, "When I pull up to a house where some of our clients are living, I find a common and enthusiastic question-'Are you here to see me?' This shows me how much they value and appreciate us."

 

By Ian Vorster | Photo By Glenn Dubock

 

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Nov 2011