We needed to prioritize the health and wellness of our citizens in Northeast Louisiana. We needed to cast a vision as to what could be, what was possible. We had to imagine what our region would be like if we had outstanding behavioral and primary health care. We also needed to imagine a region where negative social determinants were mitigated, service coordination was the norm, and population health was the best in the nation.
In Louisiana’s Delta, provider networks were limited and often functioned in silos. We at Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NEDHSA) saw this as an opportunity. We saw no strategic and systemic approach to help meet complex, chronic needs found in our region. We sought to better understand the weaknesses within our healthcare system, communities, and various service systems and started to do something about it. And after we committed ourselves to make things better for our region’s people, many stood still and watched us work to make things better.
We know that people with mental health and substance abuse disorders may sometimes suffer from undiagnosed, preventable illnesses like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. At the same time, primary care settings have become a gateway to behavioral health systems and may not always have the expertise and staff capacity to meet all who present with active or underlying unmet behavioral health needs. This is why we stood up our integrated health services model and work daily to make it better. We thank the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for recognizing Northeast Delta HSA as one of their inaugural National Healthcare Innovations Award winners.
Our holistic approach and work with rural health clinics, hospitals, and federally qualified health centers throughout Northeast Louisiana help address critical issues that our citizens face through our innovative service collaborations, coalitions, and partnerships. We understand that overall health is affected by social determinants of health. However, when social determinants of health are negative, like not having nutritious meals, high unemployment, community instability, poor quality education, and inadequate housing options, then one experiences more behavioral and healthcare problems. This is why we offer an array of prevention and wellness programs and services to help mitigate these negative social determinants of health. We also provide tobacco cessation, gambling prevention and intervention, transitional housing, employment training and placement, and numerous special initiatives to the population we serve.
The integrated model is not just for our health care services, but we are also moving toward being fully integrated and paperless as an agency by July 1, 2022. This integration includes our clinical offices and services, developmental disability offices, prevention and wellness department, human resources, communications, fiscal, and corporate compliance. This integrated care model is our way of working more efficiently and effectively to help meet our region’s needs.
This week, you will get a chance to look at our programs and initiatives and see how they have yielded notable successes for our clients and our region. We did not just talk about what was possible. We talked, we walked, and we built. As we continue to build, we hope to further become a catalyst in our region, for our state, and the nation. We owe it to the people we serve and to every vulnerable person we are fortunate to help or show others how to help.