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Innovative presenters shared key healthcare trends at CHCA Fall Workshops to best serve patients

Before judging someone suffering from substance use disorder, stop and think again.

Reshape your perspective, said Nick Szubiak, principal at NSI Strategies in Washington and a former top official at National Council for Behavioral Health.

For years, he said, public health policy toward fighting drug addiction focused on “just trying to scare people.”

As an example, he recalled the catchphrase from the 1980s, “Just say no,” which failed to achieve great success in helping people.

“Simple answers usually don’t work,” Szubiak said.

Szubiak was among the presenters at the Community Health Centers of Arkansas Fall Workshops. They were held Oct. 19-20 at the CHCA office in North Little Rock and at a Little Rock hotel just across the Arkansas River.

Other topics included Community Health Center (CHC) workforce development, establishing a telemedicine program, improving customer service, and cyber security, among others.

To help understand those who suffer from substance use disorder, Szubiak showed photos of quick-reward foods, such as decadent desserts. The photos serve as “triggers” to remind you how good you feel when you eat them, much in the same that thinking about drugs makes an addict want more drugs.

But he said those with the disorder will be forever chasing the feeling from their first high. That’s because the body builds up a tolerance, which demands more and more drugs be taken to achieve a high. That further builds up tolerance, which leads to even more drug intake to get high.

“The devil himself developed this dynamic,” Szubiak said.

Dr. Chantal Lorio, senior director at Huron, a global consultancy firm, spoke on resilience training for CHC providers and frontline staff. She said the vocal complainers usually get the focus of administrative response.

“We often don’t pay attention to the provider who gets withdrawn,” Lorio said. “They just say it’s burnout. Urge them to talk about problems with their support system.”

To help keep a healthy state of mind, she added, “Note three specific things you are grateful for each day. Set three specific goals for your well-being.”

When dealing with irate patients, Lorio said, “Let patients know you care. It diffuses problems.”

Dr. Christopher Roby, chief operations officer at the Community Health Center Association of Mississippi, advised CHC workers to always keep their focus on their patients. Respect their time, he said, ensuring they are routed through the clinic in an efficient manner.

Dr. Christopher Roby

“Own up to your mistakes,” Roby said. “Just say, ‘I’m sorry.’”

He cautioned that many CHC patients may have relationships with Board members. Those Board members may complain to the chief executive officer, and the complaint will eventually get back to the frontline staff person who first encountered the patient.

Building and maintaining relationships are also important when implementing telehealth programs in schools, said Caroline Cody and Megan Brown, LPN and program manager, with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Institute for Digital Health Innovation.

“Schools like working with CHCs,” said Cody. “But it can get political. The [local] school board has to pass a resolution. And a school nurse can make or break you.”

She advised CHCs to fully educate school nurses on goals. Explain that telehealth isn’t about replacing what school nurses do. Tell them that telehealth will make their jobs easier.

Michelle Fernandez Gabilondo, associate director of workforce development for the Association of Clinicians for the Underserved, spoke of the importance for CHCs to design comprehensive workforce plans.

“Perform a self-assessment of how you make your organization work for the people who are there,” Gabilondo said. “You need to know where you stand to know where you are going. Know your mission and vision. People who want to work at CHCs want to work at a mission-driven organization.”

Dr. Kellee Farris (left), Jordan Pinson and Lisa Weaver


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