When Susan Lewis Kaylor became president and CEO of the St. Vincent Family Center early in 2017, she’d followed the Ohio Medicaid behavioral health redesign on a policy level.
“But what I realized is following policy and putting it into practice at a direct care level is a very different exercise,” she says.
After a six-month delay, the redesign went into effect Jan. 1, 2018, which meant the pediatric nonprofit agency that provides behavioral health care services has had to change how it delivered and billed for its care. It even altered how it recruited and trained people because of changes in licensure.
St. Vincent serves 5,000 families through its 40,000 square-foot facility on the near east side of Columbus. Before Kaylor came on board, the organization expanded its campus to serve more children at its day treatment program, St. Vincent Prep Academy.
Consultants also assist preschool teachers and families so more of those children can stay in community schools. In the first quarter of 2018, a full-time consultant was added, which took 10 preschools off its wait list.
So, change isn’t unknown to an organization that already deals with the high staff turnover rates that come with its industry — it’s typically 50 percent or higher. But the redesign meant Kaylor had to hit the ground running.
An opportunity to do more
The Medicaid redesign was the biggest change in 20 years for community mental health providers. Kaylor says the organization wanted to use it as an opportunity to make its programs better. So, in her first 30 days, she sat down with the senior team to pound out St. Vincent’s guiding principles.
“We crafted our guiding principles, and at the very top of that was just to provide outstanding, clinical care for the youth and families we serve,” she says. “Sometimes that gets lost in these kinds of big policy and system changes, so we kept going back to that.”
St. Vincent’s senior team also identified seven employees who could kick the tires. They spent time — often before or after work or during lunch — talking through what needed to be done differently and how the organization could improve, before any changes were rolled out to those delivering care.