Hawai'i PCP ‘Catalyzes’ Behavioral Health Integration

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PCP’s Catalyst Project is wrapping up its pilot year, and University of Hawai’i PCP just successfully completed their capstone event: a town hall meeting to address their community’s need to better integrate behavioral health into primary care.

Dr. Gerard Akaka
Keynote speaker Dr. Gerard Akaka

Throughout the year, four PCP teams participated in the Catalyst Project – a national learning collaborative with hands-on guidance and support to catalyze conversations about primary care innovation and transformation. Teams began by analyzing their local Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) to identify actionable primary care health needs. They then engaged key stakeholders, and inventoried community assets, resources, and gaps.

Last month, Hawai’i PCP brought together undergrads, public health students, social workers, faculty, community members, and more for a town hall. State mental health professional Dr. Gerard Akaka was the keynote speaker, and shared a powerful model for behavioral health integration into primary care. Attendees then shared their own experiences with mental health and homelessness in Hawaii.

Plans to integrate behavioral health into primary care

After brainstorming in small groups, the team came up with an action plan for integrating Akaka’s behavioral health model into their med school’s clinic for the homeless. There were several immediate outputs from the event, including the buy-in of the clinic’s physician coordinator and better connections between those working on homelessness and mental health integration. “This project has energized our team and given us a goal to pursue during the next school year, as we plan to implement the action plan,” says team leader Daniel Okubo. “It also increased awareness of our team in the community, and provided opportunities for increased cooperation and collaboration moving forward.”

For the future, Hawai’i PCP plans to work on getting more mental health providers to volunteer at the clinic to implement the model, as well as advocate statewide for integrating the model into primary care for low-income populations.

Victoria Boggiano

Victoria Boggiano is a medical student at Stanford School of Medicine. She plans to practice family medicine. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Victoria spent a year and a half working at Save the Children in Hanoi, Vietnam, as well as a year working at a community health center in Maryland, before beginning medical school. She is also a member of PCP's National Training Team.

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