In the face of COVID-19 restrictions, safety-net organizations such as community health centers (CHCs) must find new ways to care for their most vulnerable patients and families. Having previously oriented their care toward in-person appointments, providers and staff are rapidly shifting how they respond to the changing needs of the populations they serve while adhering to social distancing recommendations. While CHCs are no strangers to overcoming barriers to care, a global pandemic is a whole new challenge.
TEAM UP for Children is a pediatric integrated behavioral health initiative co-developed by Boston Medical Center and seven community health centers across eastern Massachusetts. With behavioral health clinicians and community health workers (CHWs) available to provide comprehensive behavioral health services as part of routine medical care, the TEAM UP model focuses on meeting people where they are, so to speak. And while patients' ability to leave their homes has changed, provider and staff willingness to meet them, by whatever means possible, has not.
"Of course not being able to have face-to-face interactions with families has been difficult, but we've been fortunate to get the support we need in order to make the needed changes to continue our work with these families," says Jessica Miranda, a TEAM UP community health worker at Brockton Neighborhood Health Center. "There's always been a need in the community, but the need is even higher now."