Patient Care

Robert Wood Johnson Grant to Fuel Behavioral Health Collaboration in Southern Tier

Nov. 19, 2018

Three University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Psychiatry faculty members, along with a community partner in Allegany County, have been selected to participate in the highly prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program.

This nationally competitive fellowship program selects up to 35 scholars annually for intensive mentorship, leadership preparation, and networking intended to empower their efforts as champions for health and health equity. It is part of RWJF’s rich legacy of programming and projects that seek to build and maintain a strong, diverse leadership and workforce in health care.

This is the UR’s first award through the Clinical Scholars Program, now in its third year.

Selected from URMC for the 2018 Clinical Scholars cohort are:

  • Project lead Michael Hasselberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry, Clinical Nursing
  • Jennifer Richman, M.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry
  • Wendi F. Cross, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics
  • Kathryn Lewis, LCSW, associate executive director of Allegany Rehabilitation Associates, Wellsville, N.Y.

The three-year, $420,000 grant will support the team’s attendance at program conferences and virtual meetings, as well as 1:1 mentorship by national experts and executive coaches who will help develop individual, team, technical and system-level leadership skills as the clinical scholars seek to better collaborate and break down silos to improve community health and health access.

In addition, funding will support a community-based health improvement project to address a complex local health problem. For its project, the UR team has chosen to focus on the critical lack of behavioral health services in the rural community of Allegany County, N.Y., with a goal to develop long-term solutions to increase access to care for residents of that Southern Tier Region. Working together with area residents and community-based partners, including UR Medicine’s Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville and Allegany Rehabilitation Associates, they will consider what services are currently available and what can be added to ensure that all individuals who need behavioral health treatment have access.

“The Robert Wood Johnson fellowship will give us time, support and perspective as we dig deep into the issue to find solutions, and we believe the key will be expanding access using technology – utilizing existing tools – telemedicine for provider-to-patient interactions and telementoring to support community providers – as well as creating new options,” Hasselberg said.

Expanding access

Increasing access to care for patients, and finding ways for behavioral health specialists to collaborate with a range of providers, especially local primary care physicians who are managing their patients’ long-term health, is exactly the direction health care needs to go, said Hochang B. Lee, M.D., chair of Psychiatry and the John Romano Professor of Psychiatry.

“The Clinical Scholars program is an exciting opportunity that will not only train our best and brightest to better solve challenges, but it will garner solutions and help us address this vexing problem of access to behavioral health treatment in Allegany County, and rural communities like it,” Lee said. “By creating sustainable solutions, we can share best practices across our region and beyond, to ensure all who need care can receive it.”