Though the Covid-19 pandemic had a definite impact on the number of clients visiting Sound locations for in person care, Sound’s Primary Care program continued its plans to expand.
The program was launched more than a year ago at our Capitol Hill facility, with an objective to provide whole healthcare to its clients, and by doing so, improve their overall health. Since that time, Sound grew its care team, which now consists of two physicians, three nurse practitioners, and three medical assistants, as well as psychiatrists committed to serving Sound’s clients. The program has expanded now to Sound’s Kent, Wallingford and Auburn facilities. Four-hundred clients have received services to date.
Ethan Seracka, Director of Whole Health Integration, and Dr. John Olson, Primary Care Medical Director, envision the program growing steadily in 2021, even though the pandemic is still impacting the number of clients who visit Sound facilities in person.
“It takes time to build something from the ground up,” says Seracka, “both in terms of the physical locations and in terms of clients. The pandemic naturally slowed down the number of clients on site, but we are very confident that with people eventually returning to care, coupled with some work we’re doing to build up our internal referral workflows, we will see more clients.”
Current services provided include annual wellness checks, specialized care evaluations, minor office procedures and basic health maintenance and prevention services among several others. Sound believes that offering primary care is a key component of its standard of quality healthcare and despite the current environment, the organization remains vested in providing primary care services to clients.
“We know that clients living with mental health issues tend to be the highest utilizers of costly healthcare services,” says Olson. “We believe that quality behavioral healthcare takes into account the overall health of our clients and by addressing their health needs early, we not only support their health outcomes, but we help to reduce their utilization of more costly health systems downstream.”
Despite the promising start, Seracka and Olson acknowledge that since primary care is fairly new to Sound, and the pandemic has slowed the process, more work will need to be done to strengthen the referral process, both internally and externally with partners.
“We are working directly with our clinical team members to understand and analyze our workflows, have conducted surveys to remove potential barriers and are participating in multidisciplinary huddles to educate and share ideas,” Olson states. “At the same time, we will also engage external health partners and educate them about the benefit of referring their hardest to treat clients to us.”