Submitted photo##Participants in a 5K walk supporting the SNACK program.
Submitted photo##Participants in a 5K walk supporting the SNACK program.

Seamus McCarthy: Transformative wellbeing

“Pain is different for each person.”

Sadly, Chris Trunde knows the subject well, from personal experience. From a childhood automobile accident, from arthritis and from his 48 years of living, the McMinnville resident knows back pain. He knows post-surgical pain in his hands. He feels persistent, chronic pain that made ordinary chores difficult. Pain for which medications are but a limited answer.

Guest Writer

Seamus McCarthy, Ph.D., director of operations and integration of the Yamhill Community Care Organization, has 20 years of experience in business management and operations in the private, for-profit sector and has been working in health care since 2008. He is passionate about health systems re-design and believes that health care transformation is best achieved through collaboration at the local community level.

“It can put you down one day, and the next day it’s lesser,” Trunde says. “There are times when I need to sit still, rest or find other avenues of relief.”

But he also knows relief, thanks to Yamhill Community Care Organization (Yamhill CCO) and its Wellness Center Persistent Pain Program in McMinnville. The program shares ways to deal with chronic pain that do not include prescription pain medication. It combines an hour of education with another of gentle yoga therapy, and has recently been able to offer its graduates massage therapy.

“Pain is not exactly the same for everyone,” Trunde says. “We’re all different. Relaxing, breathing and stretching through an adaptive yoga, that was something that was very beneficial for myself. Stretching it out and breathing is important for proper brain function and proper interpretation of pain signals.”

The Pain Program is one of the many non-traditional efforts promoting health and wellbeing in Yamhill County that are supported by Yamhill CCO through one of its last two grant programs: Invest Forward in 2014 and Transform Forward in 2015.

Yamhill CCO strives to support programs and organizations that address the goals our community has identified for us as a health plan, for our members and also for the health of the community as a whole. These organizations don’t have to be a traditional part of the health care system, so long as the objective of their projects aligns with ours.

For example, programs supported include:

* Wellness Center Pain Program.

* The WellRideTM program for medical transportation for non-emergency care.

* The Wellness to Learn program to help elementary school children whose learning is hindered by unmet physical, dental or behavioral issues, with the McMinnville School District.

“Wellness to Learn is a great example of what community partners can accomplish for children when working together,” said McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell. “As a result of this collaborative program students in our schools are gaining access to medical and mental health services in a way that is much more timely then in the past. When children come to school in good health they are better able to learn. Good health and quality education can provide positive outcomes for individuals, families and the community as a whole.”

* Student Nutrition and Activity Clinic for Kids (SNACK) pairs children who have weight issues and their families with trained undergraduate interns, who help with fun physical activities, healthy eating and positive lifestyle choices.

* Project Able, a peer-to-peer support program for people recovering from mental health issues.

* Community Emergency Medical Services, a partnership with West Valley Fire District that brings health care to residents in rural areas who have limited access health care access.

These programs address issues beyond diseases or sick-care. They identify needs, such as lack of transportation and social support for people with mental health diagnoses, and tackle them within the community, meeting people where they are.

Yamhill CCO is now seeking proposals for a new round of funding. The CCO has designated $1.5 million for the new grants.

We are committed to achieving the goals the state has set for health care transformation and our community has made an excellent start. Yamhill CCO was recently named as one of four organizations to be national models for community collaboration on public health in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Georgia Health Policy Center’s “Bridging for Health” Initiative.

As a community, we’ve already come together to identify what is important for us. We have some priorities that we’d like to see in these proposals, including early learning, dental and mental health integration with physical health, improvements in hospice and palliative care, and population health and wellness. But we’d also consider other innovative health projects.

Deadline for letters of intent is January 29. The proposals must address the Yamhill CCO “Triple Aim” goals of better health outcomes, better experience of care, and lower cost, and address at least one strategy or objective in at least one of the following plans: the 2015-17 Transformation Plan, the Community Health Improvement Plan or CHIP, the 2016-19 Action Plan for Better Health, or the 2016 Early Learning Hub Strategic Plan. These plans are located on the Yamhill CCO website: Applicants must submit a letter of intent no more than three pages long, including a detailed budget to Project Manager Bonnie Corns at Organizations submitting letters of intent that meet the criteria will be invited to submit a full proposal.

One of our strengths as a community — one that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recognized — is that we have already brought together many players to look at health and health care and even early education from many different perspectives. We’re looking forward to seeing what new ideas come from this next round of projects.

From Chris Trunde’s point of view, he’s happy about the programs already supported. He’s a peer counselor at Project Able, and he’s been able to reduce his medication use and better distract himself from pain. On days when pain is on the rise, he’s grateful that the Pain Program made it possible to carry on with everyday life.

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