Category Archives: Wellness Matters

David Lewis Garden Back in Bloom

The garden at the David Lewis Reentry Center is back in full operation after a temporary hiatus. New funding sources and dedicated volunteers made re-opening the garden to the public possible this past spring.

The center has long been a refuge for East Palo Alto community members coming home from prison. The gardening project allows them an opportunity to reconnect with their community and nature.

Seasonal vegetables and fruits are growing in abundance and are available for community members.

Read more about the garden on Wellness Matters.

Women’s Treatment Facility Transitions to Serve Only Men

As of June 3rd, Laurel House, a program of HealthRIGHT 360, began serving adult men in need of residential substance use treatment services in San Mateo County.  

Laurel House was the first home opened by the Women’s Recovery Association in 1973 and originally its mission was to treat only women.

Laurel House

The transition to now serve men is a remarkable accomplishment and a testament to HealthRIGHT’s commitment to the entire community and its partners.

The transition occurred mainly to address the recovery needs of men, ease the backlog of clients waiting to access residential care, and fill the growing number of women’s beds that have consistently remained empty system wide since the implementation of Drug Medi-Cal in 2017.  

Read the full article here

An Inside Look: StarVista Crisis Center Hotline

One of San Mateo County’s most used suicide prevention resources, and part of  StarVista’s Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention Center, is a suicide crisis hotline that operates 24-hour-a-day, 365 days per year.

Call center staff field calls from county residents in emotional distress, dealing with depression, experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety and those having thoughts of suicide. 

More than 11,000 calls were answered last year alone, an amazing accomplishment considering that the call center is comprised of a single desk staffed by just one person per shift who juggles multiple call.

In the most recent issue of the BHRS newsletter, “Wellness Matters”, a call center counselor shares an inside look into the crisis counseling experience as well as his own story of recovery. You can find that article by clicking here.

Medication Assisted Treatment Helping More People with Opioid Addiction

As the opioid epidemic continues to have a negative impact across the country, San Mateo County is responding to the challenge by strengthening existing programs and creating new resources to deal with the crisis.

This includes the creation of the Integrated Medication Assisted Treatment (IMAT) program. The IMAT effort consists a team of case managers embedded within San Mateo Medical Center’s Emergency Department and the Primary Care Interface team. In addition, the County opened their first addiction medicine clinic, the San Mateo Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Clinic in 2016.   

In the fall of 2017, the clinic expanded their outreach and engagement efforts to serve those with opioid use disorders (OUD) and has seen a significant increase in the number of patients treated. The increase can be attributed to the county-wide effort and commitment to expand access to care which includes a new protocol established at the San Mateo Medical Center’s Emergency Department earlier this year resulting in patients receiving care sooner, extended service offerings at the MAT clinic- including patient walk in hours, and increasing the number for providers who can prescribe buprenorphine.

To read more about IMAT and other efforts the county is making to expand access to medication assisted treatment click here.

Clara Boyden Named as Deputy Director Alcohol & Other Drug Services 

Clara Boyden has been named to serve as the first Deputy Director for BHRS Alcohol & Other Drug (AOD) Services. 

AOD programs and services are critical to meet the needs of the BHRS community and this is a significant step in providing integrated behavioral health service at all levels. 

Clara first joined the County of San Mateo in 1998 in the Health Department’s Tobacco Prevention Program in the Health Education Unit.  Since then, Clara she has held a number of roles within Health and the Human Services Agency (HSA), including HSA’s Planning and Evaluation Unit.   

Clara is a tireless advocate for individuals struggling with substance use disorders and people in recovery.  Read more about Clara in this “Wellness Matters” article.

New System Expands Services and Access to Care

Since launching the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (DMC ODS) pilot in San Mateo County in February 2017, BHRS data has shown a 140% increase in the number of unique Medi-Cal beneficiaries served  annually by the Substance Use Disorder (SUD) provider network  – from 516 people in 2016 to 1,245 people in 2018.  DMC services billed to the State have also increased 206% since implementation.  This increase is due in part, to the increase in the number of certified DMC  providers, from four in 2016 to twenty-four certified DMC providers currently. 

What is the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System? 

The Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (DMC-ODS) is a pilot program which expands the services that can be provided to Medi-Cal beneficiaries under the Drug Medi-Cal benefit that were not previously covered.  Important new services include:  residential treatment, recovery support services, case management, and medication assisted treatment services.  When combined with the original DMC services (outpatient services, intensive outpatient, and opioid treatment services), a comprehensive substance use disorder benefit is now available.  Through these services, our aim is to improve access and timeliness to care,  enhance our client’s experience of care, and improve overall client health and wellness.    

Read more on how BHRS will continue serving and expanding treatment options and quality of care through this system, click here.

Recovery Happens: Real Stories – Real People

The sharing of a personal story can be self-reflective, educational, de-stigmatizing and incredibly empowering. During Recovery Month, we share stories of hope, resilience and recovery from those who have experienced substance use and/or mental health conditions. These individuals share their stories with the hope that others will be inspired to seek help and join them on the path to recovery. 

This overall sense of low self-worth was the perfect combination to lead me toward becoming an addict. Through addiction, I lost myself for years. Using drugs helped me numb my feelings and emotions for most of my adult life... (Melissa)

This life I built over the course of four decades collapsed all at once. Like one big tower, my life came crashing down. The trigger: the demise of a relationship I was in. I found myself looking at a life without love, without the family I helped create, without a job, no place to live, and so forth. I felt I had outlived my usefulness and was too old to rebuild. So, I decided to go for the permanent fix and tried really, really hard to kill myself... (William)

Click here to read the inspiring personal stories of local residents who have experienced mental health and substance use issues.

Detox Center’s Certification Expands Services

The Palm Avenue Detox Center has become San Mateo County’s and California’s first standalone residential withdrawal facility. The new services provide a safe and supportive home-like environment for consumers who are acutely intoxicated or experiencing withdrawal symptoms    

As of July 1, Medi-Cal beneficiaries began receiving new residential withdrawal management services at Palm as a result of the center’s recent certification under the county’s expanded Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (ODS), Continuum of Care. 

The continuum of treatment services available under the ODS expanded significantly from the “original” Drug Medi-Cal program services to now include outpatient services, short-term residential services, withdrawal management, narcotic treatment program services, recovery services, case management, physician consultation, and additional medication assisted treatments. 

Read the full article in the BHRS Newsletter, Wellness Matters, here.

Innovative Pride Center to Remain Open

The one stop shop support and services center is the first of its kind in San Mateo County and thanks to an Innovation funding extension, it will continue serving the local LGBTQ+ community.

Services offered by the Center include:

  • Psycho-educational and social/community activities
  • Mental health clinical services
  • Resources for local, county and national LGBTQ+ services.

California’s Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) approved the extension to keep the center operating in March.

The Pride center has provided services, training and events for over 3,000 participants since opening in 2017. Read the full article here.

To see more stories, read past and current issues, or subscribe to our Wellness Matters newsletter, click here.

Mental Health Care Clients Can Live Longer With Holistic Approach

BHRS is seeing improved physical and psychological health outcomes in the Total Wellness program. The holistic health care approach, established in collaboration with the San Mateo Medical Center, combines mental and physical health services in one location to better serve mentally ill adult clients who also have physical health conditions.  

Consistent and solid improvement is occurring among consumers managing conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The program was created a few years ago because, on average, people with behavioral health issues tend to die 25 years earlier than their peers because of poor access.

To learn more about the Total Wellness program, read the full article in the BHRS “Wellness Matters” newsletter.

You can also subscribe to Wellness Matters here.

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