A holistic approach to patient care

  • The Wellness Team at Clinical Support Options at One Arch Place in Greenfield are from left, Kelly Corrao-Fisher, Melissa Osborne, Sharon Levenson, Hank MacLeod, Susan Denis, Aaron Uschmann and Cassie Miller. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

For the Recorder
Published: 10/7/2019 9:27:59 AM

Clinical and Support Options’ wellness program provides an extra level of counseling, support and programming for patients of all ages. At the program, which has locations in Athol, Greenfield and Northampton, registered nurses, certified peer support specialist and a wellness coach help patients navigate behavioral changes and implement wellness strategies.

“We have a saying that there is no wrong door,” said Geoffrey Oldmixon, associate vice president of marketing and development for the agency’s Northampton office. “Anyone that comes to us we’re going to figure out how to get them get the help they need. It could be someone who is in serious need of help with an addiction use disorder, someone who has anxiety issues to work through or anything in between so these wellness programs fall under that same strategy.”

The wellness program’s clients have primary care screening and peer support in a behavioral health outpatient practice.

Melissa Osborne, the program’s director, said it is open to everyone, regardless of their financial situation.

“This program also allows us to see people regardless of their insurance status. We have outpatient therapy and intensive outpatient therapy that people can now access because we are a certified community behavioral health clinic,” she said.

Each location has its own calendar that involves anxiety and depression support groups, healthy eating and a cooking group that nurse wellness manager Sharon Levenson, of the Greenfield office, puts on every Monday. There are also peer support groups and workshops for resume writing, food stamps and housing applications, a chronic illness support group and a grief support group. While each location’s programming is slightly different based on staff, there is something happening.

At the Greenfield office, for example, there is an ongoing creative arts group in addition to a walking group, a yoga group, a painting group and a veteran’s coffee hour every morning from 9 to 10 a.m. featuring doughnuts made by Adam’s Donuts. In addition to these group activities, staff members are available to meet one on one with clients to engage in everything from counseling, medication support, diabetes management, vital sign monitoring, case management, nutrition/weight loss, budgeting and assistance with filling out forms.

“Some people don’t want to discuss certain things in a group such as the desire to lose weight, increase their energy and improve their nutrition. As a nurse, I’m available to meet with them individually and that seems to work well for many people,” Levenson said.

When meeting with clients for the first time, Levenson said health care workers usually identify challenges and match them with programs on the spot.

“A lot of these individuals are in various stages of recovery or battling different mental illness issues for many years. Their support systems might not be terribly robust. Their group of friends may have fallen by the wayside depending on past lifestyles or current choices. What we’re seeing now is a lot of them are sort of backing into the social stratosphere,” she said.

According to Osborne, patients come to the program for a variety of reasons — from getting out of the house to improving confidence. Osborn said the wellness program helps to introduce patients to other programs within Clinical and Support Options they might not encounter otherwise. In that sense, the program is opening doors both within and outside the agency.

The program’s impact has been profound, according to organizers. Since starting in May, Levenson says she has consistently heard wellness clients saying they don’t know what they would do without the program. Osborne says she’s heard clients describe staff members as “their guardian angels.” Others said they’d battled serious physical and mental health challenges without support before discovering the program.

“It is a very common story that people don’t always feel they might receive the support they need,” she said, noting that wellness program advocates “Help them navigate their own primary care and help them understand what the treatment plan is or express to their providers what their concerns may be,” Osborn said.

It’s not just the clients who benefit, Osborne elaborates. Therapists also have support, she said. Within the wellness program, a therapist who might otherwise have to negotiate a client’s food, transportation and housing needs on a weekly basis, have a team surrounding them.

“It’s really nice to have all of the layers of CSO involved,” Levenson said.

For more information about the wellness program, visit csoinc.org.

Miasha Lee is a resident of Hatfield. She loves writing about music, health, culture and everyday people in the community. Contact her at miashalee2@gmail.com.

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