Family Care Health Centers (FCHC) is no stranger to innovation. With two state-of-the-art facilities in the metropolitan area, and a satellite medical clinic within a local community mental health center, FCHC offers a host of cutting-edge primary care services that include medical, dental, vision, HIV/AIDS counseling and language interpretation. But it is FCHC’s ground-breaking work in behavioral health that deserves the spotlight [see local news story]. The health center’s behavioral health department has 17 service providers that include a psychiatrist, clinical pharmacist, psychologists, social workers, student trainees and support staff. All adult patients are FCHC are screened for depression at FCHC. Because experts say that between 3 to 6 percent of women will experience a major depressive episode during pregnancy, women who are under the care of the obstetrics (OB) department are screened for depression during pregnancy and postpartum. Depressive symptoms can appear before delivery. Risk factors include a history of depression prior to pregnancy, decreased social support, stressful life events (such as domestic violence) and low socio-economic status. That is why FCHC’s success in proactively diagnosing and treating post-partum depression among mothers is so critical.
The Supporting Her In Pregnancy and Postpartum (SHIP) project began in 2012 when FCHC received a grant from the Maternal, Child, and Family Health Coalition. Psychologist Dr. Jacquelyn Cattage says the program, now in its fourth year of implementation, has helped up to 400 women by connecting them to services, support or treatment.
“Behavior health has always been integrated into our health center,” said Cattage. “But now the SHIP project has really evolved to help the center effectively bridge the working relationship between OB and women’s health divisions with behavioral health. For instance, one challenge we face is reengaging women after they deliver if we started behavioral health work with them during pregnancy. We know that perinatal mood and anxiety disorders do not magically disappear after a woman delivers and may in fact worsen. We have streamlined the process so that women who receive OB care can be assigned a primary care provider after they deliver, so they can continue their much needed behavioral health care.”
FCHC’s work with the SHIP project has helped build wellness and healthy behaviors among mothers and indeed their families. By going beyond the walls of the center to provide support and services to women experiencing depression, FCHC showcases the health center “whole health” model of care that not only prevents illness but addresses the social determinants of health – or the factors that contribute to one’s health and well-being.Print this story