by Carol Leish
Maureen Hodge, LCSW, Program Manager of High-Risk Program at Community Memorial Health Systems says, “There are many outpatient programs provided by the hospital. And, we hope that the expansion of ambulatory behavioral health programs will enable our team to be able to better serve our community.”
There are three types of ambulatory services according to Hodge. “There is: 1) Behavioral Health Integration Program (BHI); 2) Caregiver Navigation Program; and, 3) Psychology.”
According to Hodge, “Recently our Center for Family Health started a Behavioral Health Integration Program which is directed towards those patients who have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or substance use disorder. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist meets individually with the patients to assess their level of stress, depression or other mental health issues and then connects them to services and resources. Also, they are called monthly to make sure that they are stable. In a short time, to this new program, our staff have helped to find psychiatrists, resources, or other programs that will help the patients to remain stable and feel that they can deal with life’s challenges.”
“The Caregiver Navigation Program (CGN),” according to Hodge, “is geared specifically to caregivers of patients who are facing a chronic illness or a debilitating diagnosis and is a caregiver for their child, spouse, neighbor, or loved one. A Licensed Clinical Professional provides support, resources, and weekly check ins to the caregiver in order to help the caregiver to remain stable. Three hospitals were funded by the Ventura County Community Foundation for a 3-year pilot program. At Community Memorial Health System, the program is offered to caregivers who have loved ones that are patients of the Centers for Family Health, which are the outpatient clinics of Community Memorial Health System. We have served nearly 100 caregivers and the results so far are showing that caregivers’ depression is decreasing and their resiliency is increasing just by having someone support them through their journey of being a caregiver.”
“We also have a psychologist who takes referrals for short term or crisis counseling,” according to Hodge. “The psychologist is available to help patients of the Centers for Family Health and is a resource to doctors and nurses who are working with patients who are in crises, stress, depression, anxiety, or may have substance use or other mental health issues.”
“In terms of the ultimate expansion of Ambulatory Behavior Health programs,” according to Hodge, “We would love to see our team be able to serve our community by providing 1:1 counseling, group therapy, addiction counseling and more. We look forward to making this happen in the future. We also want to expand services to our aging population, those with disabilities, teenagers, and adults who are struggling and need more support through our behavioral health wellness programs.
“Our team is committed to being a bridge, resource and support for those who are facing mental health stressors, crises, or addiction. Depression and anxiety have increased greatly since COVID-19 started, and our community is in need of mental health service/resources more than ever. We look forward to seeing Community Memorial Health System become a resource for our patients for their mental health needs.”