Caring for the Whole Patient and Building Trust Within Our Community for the Past 50 Years
When Dr. Marie Kellett first started working with her patient, Peter, in February of 2018, he was struggling to stay healthy.
“Peter suffered from opioid addiction. His health came and went in swings. He’d stay sober for months, then relapse,” said Dr. Kellett. “This is the reality for our patients and why they need our support. Recovery is lifelong.”
Supporting Patients Through Lifelong Recovery and Wellness Requires a Team Approach
Dr. Kellett, the lead physician of Integrated Behavioral Health at Family First Health, began practicing here five years ago. When she arrived, behavioral health was already integrated into primary care. She was able to jump right in and work with primary care providers, and together provide care that allowed her to treat the whole person.
“No other health system was integrating behavioral health to the extent Family First Health was doing even five years ago,” she said. “Other organizations had behavioral health services, but Behavioral Health Consultants were always set aside as specialists. Bringing them into the primary care setting to be a part of the conversation was a new concept and something only a few health centers like Family First Health were doing.”
At Family First Health, the team approach to care also provides Dr. Kellett with on-site access to a licensed social worker if a patient were to ever require urgent intervention.
“Our patients often live chaotic lives,” Dr. Kellett said. “This ‘one-stop-shop’ team approach allows us to immediately intervene if we find our patients in distress or facing an emergency caused by substance abuse or trauma.”
Treating Peter Has and Will Continue to Require an Entire Team of Caregivers
Dr. Kellett shared Peter’s story with us and how the integrated approach to care has positively impacted his recovery journey.
“When Peter first came to Family First Health in 2018, he was sober, having recently completed rehab for his addiction,” she said. “We worked to help him maintain his sobriety with support from both medication and group meetings.”
Peter’s needs also extended beyond addiction support to include treatment for depression, PTSD and other issues. It was important for Dr. Kellett to understand his history of trauma in order to support the full extent of his needs.
“He’s sustained significant amounts of trauma, from being shot to witnessing people die,” she said. “He hasn’t had an easy life.”
With an integrated approach, Family First Health treated him as a whole person, not as a series of health challenges.
“Our integrated approach helped him work towards living a healthy life,” said Dr. Kellett.
After Peter Started on an Addiction Treatment Plan, it Began to Work
“Peter was much more stable,” she said. “He reconnected with his son and was doing well.”
Unfortunately, Peter later relapsed and started using again. After his relapse, he came back to Family First Health to see Dr. Kellett and the rest of his care team. He wanted their help to get sober again.
“I know it was his trust in us that led him to come back to Family First Health and get back on a path towards recovery,” Dr. Kellett said.
After some time passed, she said she discovered that Peter was homeless and living in a shelter.
“So, I reached out to the shelter and got him back on his medicine,” Dr. Kellett said. “When he came back to our office again, he sat down and we talked about rehab. In the end, I was able to get him into a detox and rehabilitation program.”
Today, Peter is doing well in rehab. He’s back with his son, is stable, has a full-time job and is trying to do the right thing.
“He still reaches out to me when he needs support,” Dr. Kellett said. “He trusts that his Family First Health team has his best interest at heart and will always be here. If he didn’t, he would never have come back for help.”
Our ability to create a truly integrated approach to care is the reason that Peter and so many other Family First Health patients are on a path towards recovery and wellness.
Please join us in continuing to celebrate our ‘First 50’ years as we share more stories like Peter’s and look ahead to the next 50 years of providing care throughout our community.