For 126 years, HopeSparks has provided a variety of programs and services to children and families experiencing adversity in South Puget Sound Region of Washington, which encompasses Tacoma and other parts of Pierce County.
But while listening to a conference discussion about mental health a few years ago, HopeSparks President & CEO Joe LeRoy and a colleague looked at each other and simultaneously arrived at the same conclusion.
“We talk about the mental health system as broken,” LeRoy explains during a Community Care Conversation podcast now available on the Elevate Health website and all major listening platforms. “And knowing that the mental health services for kids, too, are not set up the best… we intended to make transformational change to the health care delivery system.”
The result was a new partnership between HopeSparks and Pediatrics Northwest, a South Sound physical health care provider. Supported primarily by financial contributions from Elevate Health, the new initiative was named “Bridge of Hope,” and carefully designed to integrate mental, behavioral and physical care for children, particularly those in crisis or suffering from trauma.
“This was about really moving from referral-based relationships to fully integrated relationships,” LeRoy says.
Grant-writing, planning and preparation soon followed, including contracted research participation by the AIMS (Advanced Integrated Mental Health Solutions) Center at the University of Washington in Seattle. The result was a collaborative mental and physical health care model specifically for kids, the first of its kind in Washington, and considered at the forefront nationally.
Bridge of Hope has dramatically reduced the bottlenecks and roadblocks that many South Sound kids and their families encounter when trying to access mental and physical health care services. Currently, about 140 children are served each month through Bridge of Hope.
“You don’t read much about pediatric collaborative care,” says LeRoy, “because it didn’t really exist. We wanted to do it right. And that took some time.”
Kim Bjorn, Director of Integration and Transformation for Elevate Health and host of the Community Care Conversation podcast, says Bridge of Hope and the community it now serves benefited from not having to be financially viable on day one.
“That’s why this is working,” says Bjorn, “because they’ve had time.”
To learn more about Bridge of Hope, Hope Sparks, Pediatrics Northwest and Elevate Health, tune in to listen to the entire conversation between Joe LeRoy and podcast host Kim Bjorn, Director of Clinical Integration and Transformation at Elevate Health.
Elevate Health Podcast, sponsored by Elevate Health and its subsidiary OnePierce Community Resiliency Fund, can be accessed at ElevateHealth.org, or on Spotify, Google Music, Audible, Amazon Music, or other major listening platforms.