Pennsylvania success stories

PA Local Success Stories
Quality improvement endeavors can often feel overwhelming, but chances are, you can learn from the experiences that another physician, hospital or nursing home has had in a similar situation. Coupled with support from Quality Insights Quality Innovation Network, learning what has worked for others — and what didn't — is a valuable strategic planning component. 

We encourage you to read the success stories, contact us for more information, and also let us know if you have a Quality Insights' success storyto share.

Coalition Sparks Improvements in Mental Health Services Regionally and Beyond

When Tricia Baffa joined the Carbon-Monroe-Pike Mental Health Developmental Services (CMP MHDS) as a community outreach coordinator, her goal was to improve the region’s Crisis Intervention Program. Her partnership with Quality Insights and the Pocono Community Coalition helped her do just that.
Baffa attended a meeting of the Community Intervention Team (CIT) program in April of 2016. This group tracks appropriate referral and follow-up for people who have an encounter with police requiring a commitment for mental health treatment.
Immediately, she recognized the need to develop efficient processes to ensure communication across community agencies when coordinating care for people with mental health symptoms and legal issues.
First, she organized stakeholder meetings to introduce herself and learn from the police officers participating in the program. “It appeared that there was a lot of work set out for me to obtain department buy-in and get the officers to believe that CIT was helpful,” says Baffa.
She used the bi-monthly meetings to share informational brochures on CIT and mental health services, and to partner with county crisis services to strategize better community follow-up.
In 2017, Baffa met Quality Insights Project Coordinator Kim Cahill at a Pocono Community Coalition meeting. Soon after that meeting, Cahill invited Baffa to join the Monroe County Region Healthcare Coalition (MCRHC) leadership team, which held monthly phone calls and gave community presentations. She credits Cahill with pointing out the need for the coalition to create a mental health sub-committee.
Cahill recognized this as an opportunity for Baffa to engage multiple community agency partners to reach her goal of improving care for this disparate population while decreasing the stigma associated with mental health conditions.
“Kim believed that the mental health perspective that I could offer the team would be highly beneficial to our partners and the community we serve,” says Baffa. The two became partners in crisis intervention, identifying the gaps between continuity of care and the stakeholders. They also began to collect data.
Baffa further explains, “During stakeholder meetings, we were able to identify that the police officers were not receiving adequate feedback and information regarding why they were petitioning involuntary commitments for mental health services, and they were almost always denied. We were also able to identify the need for officers to submit crisis data sheets in a timelier manner, so as not to address a police contact more than the 72-hour window from the incident.”
To tackle this issue, Baffa and Cahill held several planning calls to analyze the CIT process from start to finish.
Baffa shared details with Cahill, including how the Crisis Intervention Program worked, the resources offered in the participating communities. Together they created a PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) tool to evaluate possible gaps in communication.
“As we began working on this project, we were able to identify said gaps and place them into a logical timeline on a spreadsheet to track our progress,” Baffa explains. “Kim has been an amazing sounding board and has allowed me to process what exactly it is I am doing with this program, as well as what needed to happen. Kim facilitated my thought process behind the needs of this program in our counties and has helped me truly bring it to life.”
“We identified gaps in communication between stakeholders of the Crisis Intervention Team,” says Baffa. This included local law enforcement as well as representatives from organizations focused on county crisis; hospital crisis; aging; drug and alcohol counseling; women’s resources, children and youth services; mental health and more.
Cahill documented the process in a spreadsheet designed to track when data sheets were completed by officers, when they were received by mental health services and when they were sent to a county crisis agency. The spreadsheet also contained a section to note any information provided by the county hospitals regarding petition denials.
County crisis coalition members explained that timely submission of the reports would allow their team to address incidents and crises before they exacerbate or become repeat events. As a result, officers have recognized how crucial the timeframe is, making every effort to submit completed data sheets within 72 hours.
On April 1, 2018, Baffa began using the spreadsheet and has been tracking the statistics ever since. So far, results have been positive.
“Data shows that we are receiving the data sheets much quicker than before we started looking at some of the concerns of receiving them outside of the 72-hour window,” Baffa reports.
Beyond that, Cahill notes that Baffa’s work is spreading beyond the coalition’s service area. “She has trained multiple police departments and extended the intervention to surrounding counties to enhance services throughout the region,” says Cahill.
As the Director of Consumer Supports, Baffa currently oversees the entire CIT program. Moving forward, she will teach the next community outreach coordinator about the successes and challenges of this rewarding program.
“My plans are to successfully train the new community outreach coordinator in crisis intervention, so the foundation that I have created and molded can be structurally built upon,” explains Baffa.
“We have made huge strides in the past three years,” says Baffa. “We have a long way to go, and more progress to make, but we are at such a good place and have great partners in law enforcement, community agencies, family members, and consumers.”