By Corinne Cavender, Behavioral Health Operations Coordinator
Your wellbeing is more than physical health. It is a combination of a handful of factors, including your behavioral health. Our partners at the Uncompahgre Medical Center (UMC) are leading the movement of tackling “health” from more than just a physical lens. We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Shelley Fourney, MSW, LCSW from UMC to learn more about their innovative way to care for the community.
Shelley started our interview by explaining her basic job functions. She explained, “[My] job is to work with [clients] around getting well in their everyday life and that can cover a variety of different things. I look at helping people function at their best.” She furthered her job description by illustrating that, “I often like to explain to people that I work with folks wanting to set goals, lose weight, manage pain, those that need parental support around parenting their own kids, grief, stress, sleep, mental health concerns, anxiety, and depression. I also often help, if I cannot help with a certain service, connect [clients] to services. We also do Acudetox which is five-point ear acupuncture…[which] often helps with things like pain and mood, sleep, relaxation in general. It’s an alternative treatment that can really help folks around managing anxiety, stopping smoking, sometimes it’s even really helpful with migraines and pain.”
The Uncompahgre Medical Center believes in care for the whole patient and has incorporated behavioral health providers into their practice for a number of years. “[UMC] provide[s] treatment for general substance use disorders through integrated visits with [a] behavioral health provider. In addition to substance use disorders, integrated visits assist with other patient concerns such as diabetes, smoking cessation, weight loss, grief, depression, anxiety, and a variety of other mental health issues.” The integrated care team at UMC team at consists of the medical provider, the patient and family, a behavioral health provider, a dental provider, a pharmacist, the care manager, and a medical assistant.
Shelley highlighted this team by explaining that she usually works with a provider during appointments to ensure a patient’s physical and behavioral health needs are addressed. It is common that if a physical need is not addressed, it worsens a mental condition, and vice versa. “One of the beauties of integrated care is we don’t have to wait until someone is in a crisis [to identify behavioral health needs].” This strategy from UMC addresses a patient’s social determinants of health and ensures quality wrap around care. Shelley and her colleagues have created a system that makes sure neither the mental nor physical health needs of their clients are neglected.
The point that stood out most about Shelley’s interview was how stigma-reducing this system is. By not separating the concepts of physical and behavioral health (I.e., having separate providers for a doctor’s appointment and a therapy appointment), patients are far more likely to engage in behavioral health services. In the interview Shelley stated, “I want to normalize needing help so that it’s something everybody feels is accessible.”
UMC’s integrated services include the following:
- Individual Psychotherapy
- 5 Point Ear Acupuncture (Acudetox)
- Goal Setting
- Depression and/or Anxiety
- Wellness Groups (every other Wednesday 1:30-2:30)
- Chronic Pain
- Integrated Medical and Dental Appointments
- Parenting Support
- Weight Management Counseling
Listen to the full interview below.
To learn more about UMC and for information on how to contact Shelley, click here.