Peer Bridger pilot program with Value Network and ECMC

Independent Perspective 1732 with guest Kevin Smith on the Peer Bridger pilot program with Value Network and ECMC.

Host:  Welcome to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of Western New York Independent Living (WNYIL). My guest today is Kevin Smith, Director of Mental Health PEER Connection (MHPC). And I’m your host Ernie Churchwell. Welcome to the program Kevin.

Guest:  Thank you for having me Ernie.

Host:  It's our pleasure. And you're here because your department is entering into an exciting new effort with a couple of community partners. Can you tell us what that effort is called and who those partners are?

Guest:  Yes, I sure can. Our effort, it's actually taking part in what's called the Peer Bridger program. We've just hired a Peer Bridger, thanks to our collaboration with Value Network of whom we are a part of the Independent Practice Association. Value Network is a group of providers like us that work proactively to integrate and fill the gaps in the mental health system to provide better services. We'll be working out of ECMC to help individuals get back into the community.

Host:  And in case somebody is listening who's not from the greater Buffalo area, what is ECMC?

Guest:  ECMC is Erie County Medical Center. And again, this particular position will allow us to work closely with the discharge planners, social workers, part of the behavioral health team that ECMC or Erie County Medical Center to provide services to individuals returning the care or either entering care after their interaction with the hospital system.

Host:  So, this is aimed at people that are about to be released from a hospital setting where they've been because of mental health or behavioral health issues I gather. What will the Peer Bridger do for them?

Guest:  Well, the Peer Bridger, after a individuals are enrolled into this program, the Peer Bridger will meet with them prior to discharge to develop a relationship with the individual that will include visiting them on the behavioral health units to introduce themselves and just letting the individual know that hey, you know, we want you to succeed. We want you to stay independent and in the community. Peer is going to act as the individual to provide a warm handoff between the hospital system and the outpatient treatment providers in the community. So he's going to work with this individual to break down whatever barriers they may be having post discharge, to not just successfully meet whatever requirements or things that are listed on that discharge plan, but also to develop whatever skill that they may be needing to stay in the community successfully.

Host:  And I gather the innovative thing about this is the contribution of the Value Network. What have they done?

Guest:  Well, thanks to the Value Network, we've been afforded the funding to partake in this adventure. So, they provided us with the funding to hire this individual to work with ECMC. They've definitely been a part of the overall process, bridging the gap between peer support providers and the clinical system here in Erie County. So yeah, I mean, they played a really big part, not just the financial piece, but actually getting peer providers in the room with these clinicians so we can offer our expertise to help our brothers and sisters stay in the community.

Host:  Plus, didn't they develop a computer app that is used by the discharge people at the hospital to clue in who's about to be released?

Guest:  Yes, yes. The Peer Bridger will actually be able to identify individuals who have been enrolled in the program by this app. They developed the app, the peer will have access to this app on his phone, the social worker, discharge planners, mental health counselors, all of the individuals or professionals as part of the discharge team will enter the data into the app. The Peer will go on, he can get a name and location and the Peer will go up to the hospital to introduce himself.

Host:  Kevin, we're totally out of time, I'm sure people will have questions. How can they reach you?

Guest:  If you have any questions you can always reach me at 716-836-0823 extension 147.

Host:  Thanks so much for being with us. You've been listening to Independent Perspective, a public affairs presentation of WNYIL. Our guest today was Kevin Smith, Director of MHPC and I've been your host Ernie Churchwell.