Baptist Medical Center
October 11, 2018 10:00 a.m.
Jacksonville, Fla., October 9, 2018 — At age 30, Jaynea Ford felt like she didn’t want to live any longer. Her substance abuse, depression and anxiety had spiraled out of control, making her feel so desperate she walked to the top of the A1A Bridge one evening ready to end her life.
“I had been drinking for two days straight, trying to numb the pain, but it wouldn’t go away,” explained Ford. Fortunately, a good friend followed her to the bridge and talked her out of it. The friend called 911, and minutes later, Ford arrived at Baptist Medical Center Nassau’s ER.
“I was really scared. I had suicidal thoughts before, but I’d never acted on them,” said Ford. “A very compassionate nurse sat with me all night.”
Approximately one in eight visits to emergency rooms (ERs) in the United States involves mental and substance use disorders, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Many patients return within 30 days because their issues go unresolved.
An innovative program between Baptist Medical Center Nassau and Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare is helping to reverse the trend.
Called the Care Coordination Program, the partnership identifies patients in the Emergency Room who have mental and substance abuse disorders and connects them to the right community resources for interventional care.
“As the number of addicted patients in our ER continued to rise, we realized we had to do something to help people in our community who are experiencing a mental health or substance abuse crisis get the care they need,” said Hospital President Ed Hubel.
The partnership has earned Baptist Nassau the Community Benefit Award from the Florida Hospital Administration (FHA). The award recognizes hospitals that have distinguished themselves through efforts to improve the health and well-being of their communities.
“We are honored to be the only hospital of our size in Florida to receive this award from the FHA,” said Hubel.
The goals of the program include not only improved care and outcomes for patients, but also a reduction in the number of return visits to the ER.
“Working with Baptist Nassau, we took the care coordination model that exists on the medical side and applied it to behavioral health,” said Laureen Pagel, Starting Point’s CEO. “The program is primarily for high-need, high-risk patients with mental health or substance abuse disorders.”
Since implementing the program, 370 patients, like Ford, have been successfully connected with needed services and 82 percent did not make a return visit to the ER.
The partnership enabled Ford to get help through Starting Point’s Road to Recovery Program, which involves seeing a psychiatrist, a therapist and attending group therapy. Patients are able to pay on a sliding scale, depending on their income. Since Ford has been in the program, she’s stopped drinking, taking drugs and smoking.
“I’ve learned new coping skills,” she said. “You can’t hold in your emotions or drink them away.” Riding her bike, journaling and talking to close friends are her new emotional outlets.
Life is looking up for Ford – she’s recently been promoted at her job as a prep chef for a local restaurant. “I didn’t even have goals before. Now I have goals — and I am achieving them,” she said.
Every day, while driving to work, Ford drives over the same bridge. “I am full of gratitude that I am not in that place anymore.”
The program is among the first in the state of Florida to feature a collaboration between an ER and a Behavioral Health Provider, and the state is seeking to replicate the program throughout Florida.
About Baptist Health
Baptist Health is a faith-based, mission-driven system in Northeast Florida comprised of Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville; Baptist Medical Center Beaches; Baptist Medical Center Nassau; Baptist Medical Center South; Baptist Clay Medical Campus and Wolfson Children’s Hospital – the region’s only children’s hospital. All Baptist Health hospitals, along with Baptist Home Health Care, have achieved Magnet™ status for excellence in patient care. Baptist Health is part of Coastal Community Health, a regional affiliation between Baptist Health, Flagler Hospital and Southeast Georgia Health System forming a highly integrated hospital network focused on significant initiatives designed to enhance the quality and value of care provided to our contiguous communities. Baptist Health has the area’s only dedicated heart hospital; orthopedic institute; women’s services; neurological institute, including comprehensive neurosurgical services, a comprehensive stroke center and two primary stroke centers; a Bariatric Center of Excellence; a full range of psychology and psychiatry services; urgent care services; and primary and specialty care physicians’ offices throughout Northeast Florida. The Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center is a regional destination for multidisciplinary cancer care which is clinically integrated with the MD Anderson Cancer Center, the internationally renowned cancer treatment and research institution in Houston. For more details, visit baptistjax.com.