I’m guessing that you are all enjoying taking a breath of fresh air these days, as am I—with fingers crossed that the air remains clear. With an election and fire season upon us, it is both unsettling and also exciting to feel autumn and change in the air. I’m grateful for the blue sky today, and to live in a place that values cultural diversity, equity and the collective well-being of all.
Speaking of which, I am absolutely floored by our nearly 150 active Healthcare Heroes—who beautifully embody this month’s theme of Above and Beyond. If you have made this pledge to the health and mental health of our community, I want to personally thank you. Your three-year commitment provides stable revenue that allows the Healthcare Foundation to respond to emergencies and to build lasting solutions.
With all the disparities that COVID and the fires have brought to light, we are more devoted than ever to our mission of eliminating health inequities in northern Sonoma County. We invite you to fulfill your pledge early to help us achieve that vision.
If you’d like to become a Healthcare Hero or make a new three-year pledge today of any amount, that would be going above and beyond. Make your 2020 Healthcare Hero payment by October 31st and be recognized in our November Newsletter. Now might be a terrific time to donate appreciated stock!
For more above and beyond, please read below about our star Board member Dr. Laura Kimbro, who runs the Women’s Health Clinic at the Healdsburg District Hospital. Our feature story this week is on our Mental Health in Schools program, Team Success. With your help, and major support from the John Jordan Foundation and the Foundation for Global Sports Development, thousands of students in Healdsburg, Windsor and Cloverdale have access to mental health services that would otherwise have been cut. Now more than ever, we need to support the mental health of our school age kids.
Because to live in beautiful Sonoma County, in any season, means believing in how each of us can go above and beyond to help make this wonderful place even better.
P.S. If you missed the 9/25/2020 Alexander Valley Film Festival panel discussion on the compelling documentary A PLACE TO BREATHE, it’s now available here.
Mental Health in Schools: Going Above and Beyond
The Healthcare Foundation is a proud supporter of theTeam Success counseling program at Healdsburg, Windsor and Cloverdale unified school districts. Funding for the Team Success program is a collaborative effort with the John Jordan Foundation and the Foundation for Global Sports Development to support ongoing mental health counseling services to local high school students. SOS Community Counseling is the Team Success service provider.
When the Team Success program had to abruptly shift online this past spring due to COVID-19 prevention measures, the transition was relatively straightforward, according to SOS Community Counseling’s executive director, Becky Ennis. Counselors continued to meet with the same individual students and families and groups they’d been meeting with before the shelter-in-place order was made, only now they were meeting online or over the phone. But several months into the pandemic, with a new academic year in full swing and schools remaining closed, Becky and her team are having to rethink their old ways of doing things.
Referrals, both from teachers and families, are down even though Becky knows there are plenty of students who could use the support from Team Success. “What we’re seeing is lots of hopelessness and lots of depression,” she says. “Our kids are mourning; they’re mourning the loss of normal.” But because the students aren’t on campus with the counselors, there are new barriers to connecting with students and developing trust. She and her staff and the administrators at the districts are working on innovative ways to identify students who need support and get them started with mental health services.
It’s no longer enough to just do what they always did but online, she says. Sometimes there’s case management work that needs to be done before they can even get started with the counseling. What’s the WiFi situation like at home? What device can students or parents use to join an online group session?
Last year 281 students took part in Team Success across Cloverdale, Windsor and Healdsburg high school. Of those students, 63, or 22 percent, said they were currently or had in the past experienced suicide ideation. Meanwhile 102, or 36 percent, said they were directly or indirectly affected by fires. Team Success counselors were on-campus each week. In addition to meeting with students individually or in groups, they also facilitated presentations and workshops about mental health issues such as depression or body image. Now they have to find a way to find the students who need Team Success without ever being on campus.
Becky says that she and her clinicians are witnessing real connections this year in the online space for the students and families who can overcome the initial hump to participating. But with high numbers of students failing one or more classes across the region, the districts are seeing an overwhelming need. “Can we share the load?” she asks the districts. Some are now starting to send their staff for in-person, outdoor check-ins for these students, and the SOS Community Counseling staff will join them. That way the counselors can jumpstart the mental health conversation and work as a team with the school staff, Becky says. This isn’t how they did things before COVID or in the spring, but it’s what’s needed now.
In their online sessions, the clinicians are also throwing out many of their old approaches and starting from scratch. There are apps that allow a student and a counselor to color in a drawing at the same time, for example, or play a game together. Becky has even recommended that her staff tape something on their computer near the camera that will make them smile to help remind them to exude extra warmth and empathy, which can be hard to transmit online.
“The need is so much greater,” she says. “So we need to take it to the next level.”
Believing in Above and Beyond
When I moved to Sonoma County and established the Center for Women’s Health, I had already had a long career as a traditional OB/GYN, delivering babies and taking care of mothers. But what I saw was a lack of attention for older women and their specific gynecological and hormonal needs. And I wanted to take care of my patients holistically, focusing as much on prevention as treating issues as they arose.
My team and I are taking that same approach during COVID. I can provide a lot of care virtually just by speaking with my patients, asking the right questions and really listening to their answers. We’re also using telemedicine to explain the safety procedures we’re taking in the clinic for in-person appointments.
We explain that we’re only seeing one person at a time. That we’re disinfecting everything between visits and that we all wear protective gear. We work really hard to make people feel confident and comfortable coming into the office when they need to.
We’re also reminding patients about how important it is to keep up with their regular screenings and following up if it looks like they’ve missed something like a mammogram. Many people are nervous right now and that anxiety can make other health issues worse. This is why personalized care with a provider that you trust is so important!
In addition to my work at the Center for Women’s Health and my role on the Healthcare Foundation’s board, I am also a part of Healdsburg District Hospital’s Strategic Planning Committee. We’ve been working hard on a plan that would keep the hospital open as a Critical Access Hospital with an emergency room for at least 30 years. I would encourage everyone to vote “yes” on Measure BB, to keep this vital resource for our community. Our hospital is a safety net to so many here in northern Sonoma County and it’s been an honor to work on this plan that will expand access to primary and specialty care right here.
Measure BB Panel Discussion
Please join this virtual community panel discussion regarding Measure BB, which is seeking voter approval on an agreement to sell Healdsburg District Hospital and its assets to NorCal Health Connect, LLC, a secular (non-religious) affiliate of Providence St. Joseph Health.
WHEN: Tuesday, October 20, 2020
TIME: Starting at 5:30pm
VIRTUAL MEETING LINK: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85304025636
Kevin Klockenga, Chief Executive, NorCal Health Connect
Jim Schuessler, CEO of Healdsburg District Hospital
Evelyn Mitchell, Mayor of Healdsburg
Gary LeKander, Chief of Staff, Healdsburg District Hospital
Dave Anderson, North Sonoma County Healthcare District Board Member and former Healdsburg primary care physician
Sue Campbell, North Sonoma County Healthcare District Board Member
Jed Weissberg, North Sonoma County Healthcare District Strategic Planning Committee member and former Kaiser Permanente Physician
The discussion will start with a brief presentation about Measure BB followed by a Q&A session based on questions from the audience. If you have questions of our panelists regarding Measure BB, please send them in advance to: Questions@YesonBBHealdsburg.com