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Coordinated health care serves entire community

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The most valuable, lasting change for communities often comes from the thoughts and dreams of local people who are invested and inspired. And such is the case with the community-rooted health care model Oregon pioneered in 2012.

Seamus McCarthy serves as president and chief executive officer of the Yamhill Coordinated Care Organization. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in transpersonal psychology at Sofia University’s Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California. Before taking the YCCO helm, he headed McMinnville’s V irginia Garcia Clinic operation. He makes his home in Newberg. In addition to engaging in civic activities there, he serves on the Yamhill County Board of Public Health and the A Family Place Advisory Council.

By creating a coordinated care system, Oregon promoted an innovative structure serving to elevate local voices and return decisionmaking to the community. It made the health and wellness of local communities a top priority.

The system enabled anyone qualified for the Oregon Health Plan to access care on a level that was not available before. And it gave them unique control over that care.

We addressed this declaration here by creating the small, grassroots Yamhill Coordinated Care Organization. From its inception in 2013, this mission-focused not-for-profit, led by local folks set out to offer high-quality and well-coordinated health care.

We envisioned YCCO as something both intentional and strategic in its stewardship of Oregon Health Plan Medicaid dollars.

We recognized that local leaders and residents would know what is best for the community’s health needs, that becoming a large corporate business would not do justice to the mission. And we have been successful in maintaining that grassroots model.

Almost seven years later, YCCO is making a measurable difference. And that’s most exciting.

In 2013, annual wellness checkups for Oregon Health Plan adolescents stood at just 24.8 percent. This year, they are running 60.5 percent.

This means a majority of Oregon Health Plan adolescents in our community have not only been able to see their doctor for treatment of illnesses, but also for exams designed to ward off such illnesses from occurring in the first place.

That reduces the burden on emergency rooms as the court of last resort for Oregonians lacking access to routine health care. It helps those Oregonians to connect with and develop bonds of trust with a personal health care provider.

To foster quality health care coordination, YCCO has worked diligently, in tandem with contracted providers, to promote prevention. We ask providers to meet certain target goals with our Oregon Health Plan members, including routine well-child visits.

The CCO model provides its partners to innovate and excel in ways they know will work for the community. And our partners have risen to the occasion.

Well-child visits are so much more prevalent today because local clinics came together to coordinate events called Student Wellness and Games Nights. It’s a fun, creative model for promoting preventive care — one that is now being replicated across the state.

By intervening early, we can change behavior and foster community-wide wellness for generations to come.

That’s why YCCO’s Prevention and Wellness Committee supports programs in schools like Positive Family Supports and PAX Good Behavior Game. These programs catch potential behavioral issues early, preventing them from becoming lifelong problems.

This committee is currently reviewing applications for nearly $1 million to support additional evidence-based prevention programs for schools, service agencies and nonprofits. This represents a strategic investment in services we know will produce positive impacts on both a short-term and long-term basis.

You may have heard things are changing for CCOs. The term “CCO 2.0” is being used to acknowledge these changes, which are in the works for 2020. We have been hosting events throughout our service area to make sure everyone can ask questions and provide feedback as we tackle new requirements.

We want you to know that while CCO 2.0 may seem like a daunting title, YCCO is still a grassroots organization and its services will continue to represents an outward display of its mission. YCCO will continue to believe in and advocate for a grassroots approach to providing health care to its 25,735 local clients.

The Oregon Health Authority is putting even stricter requirements on CCOs, with even higher performance expectations. They are designed to foster better health outcomes and lower costs.

The menu includes more focus on mental health and substance use services, recognizing that the health of our community is dependent not only on people’s physical health, but their whole health. YCCO integrates “behavioral” health care by engaging with community partners to offer mental health support, substance use disorder treatment, peer support, crisis management and intensive care coordination.

Another key component of CCO 2.0 addresses factors outside the doctor’s office  — factors Health Plan clients deal with every day. These challenges might include trying to figure out how to get to a doctor’s appointment, securing reliable childcare or making sure there’s food on the table and a roof overhead.

CCO 2.0 challenges coordinated care organizations like YCCO to develop new ways to help clients overcome challenges like these. That serves to improve not only their health, but also the overall health of the community.

We are proud to say many of these expectations have already been a focus for the YCCO. Locally, traditional health workers already bolster the medical workforce by offering additional social, mental health and resource navigation.

We employ community health workers who help members get to appointments and connect to services. We work closely with local peer support agencies like Champion Team, Project Able and Provoking Hope, as well as the Oregon Family Support Network. We also contract the local Well-Ride service, which offers free transportation to appointments.

To date, YCCO is the only coordinated care organization recognized as an official Early Learning Hub by the Oregon Department of Education’s Early Learning Division. Thanks to this designation, we can connect with young families in a way that has a positive impact on their future.

Our Learning Hub program supports the coordination of numerous programs for parents and children, including home visitation, parenting group participation and school readiness activities.

ELH also works with providers of professional development and networking opportunities, trauma-informed care training, work planning assistance and service integration. We believe this model of CCO and ELH working together is a key component to a successful CCO, and a model for the state.

We will continue to look at what we do well, what we can do better, and how we can develop new ways to support a healthy community. What we need from you, as members of our community, is your continued support of our mission.

You can provide support by joining us for events like our summer family picnics, promoting the importance of preventative health care to friends and family, joining the Community Prevention and Wellness Committee or attending a Community Advisory Council meeting to share your thoughts, volunteering in schools and supporting tax measures to better fund prevention programs. The grassroots YCCO structure cannot continue to be successful without local advocacy and support. 

We are excited for the CCO 2.0 next generation of health care. We will continue to work toward our mission of creating a unified healthy community that celebrates physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being.

If you would like to learn more about our programs and services, please contact us at info@yamhillcoo.org.

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