To Effectively Care for a Patient, We Have to Treat the Whole Patient
When Family First Health opened in 1970, we set out to deliver exceptional primary care services to our community’s most vulnerable members. Over the past 50 years, we’ve expanded our services and broadened our capabilities, but our roots in primary care still drive the way we care for our patients. This intention is based upon a recognition that a patient is more than a medical record.
A person’s mental and emotional health are just as integral to their overall wellbeing as their physical health. Our Family First Health providers integrate behavioral health and substance use services into their overall approach to care. This integration is happening at the primary care level, something that’s unique to our organization. And it’s why, year after year, we continue to see incredible results.
Caring for the Whole Patient Takes a Team
We recognized long ago that a team-based approach to care brings about the best patient outcomes. This is particularly evident when you look at the outcomes of our behavioral health and integrated substance use services where a team of specialists works alongside the primary care provider to help that patient work towards recovery.
This team approach to care starts on day one. When a new patient has their first primary care visit, they’re screened for depression and substance use. If that patient’s primary care physician recognizes a substance or psychological issue, or even just feels that the patient could use some additional support, they’ll bring in the behavioral health and/or substance use team and develop a collaborative treatment plan to get the patient the support they need.
Unlike so many other health centers and treatment programs, our primary care physicians are on the front lines of care, regardless of the support the patient needs most.
“You can’t separate primary care from behavioral care; they’re both working towards the same goal which is a patient’s long-term wellness,” said CarrieAnn Frolio, VP of Integration & Business Development at Family First Health. “By placing equal weight on a person’s physical and behavioral needs, and funneling that support through the primary care physician, we’re able to care for the whole patient.”
A Center of Excellence in Pennsylvania
We’ve always believed in the importance of treating the whole patient and in 2016 we were recognized for this approach related to our work supporting patients with opioid addictions. That year we received a Center of Excellence grant from the state of Pennsylvania which let us accelerate the work we were doing, and continue to do, to help more people in our communities recover from the devastating opioid epidemic.
Through this grant, we expanded our substance use services and developed an integrated approach to addiction recovery and care. Today, each Family First Heath patient participating in the program has a team of specialists – including primary care, dental care, case management, recovery support, and behavioral care – all working together to aid in their recovery.
Treating the Whole Patient During a Pandemic
While the blending of primary care, behavioral health and substance use services are the most visible part of how Family First Health is caring for the whole patient, there are many other services we provide, including efforts aimed at making healthcare more accessible. And never before have these efforts been more critical to our community’s wellbeing than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Well before the pandemic, Family First Health had established strong relationships with organizations throughout York, Adams, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties that allowed us to address challenges our patients experienced getting to their doctor.
“Transportation is one of the biggest barriers to care,” CarrieAnn said. “If patients can’t find a way to get to their physician’s office, they’re not going to receive the care they need. Healthy food is also a big concern. If you’re hungry and worried about finding your next meal, getting to your doctor’s appointment is going to take a backseat.”
When the pandemic hit, access to transportation and healthy food became even more difficult. When we saw this happening, we quickly activated our partners to get patients even more support. Things like ride-sharing and grocery delivery services made a big difference and helped get patients to their appointments.
Some of our long term partners have also made a big impact during the pandemic. We can connect patients with Rabbit Transit in York, the Lebanon transit authority, and Red Rose Transit in Columbia for reliable transportation to our offices. We also work with our neighborhood food banks and local CSAs to make sure our patients get the healthy food they need.
More than ever before, we’re seeing evidence of what we’ve always known to be true – we must care for the whole patient if we want to improve lives and create healthier communities.
Help Us Create a Healthier Community
Our patients and families hold a special place in the heart and history of Family First Health. Join us in celebrating our First 50 and support us as we continue to share our story and care for our community. Click below to make a donation and help us continue to provide high-quality health care services over the next 50 years!