written by: Susan Minnich, Human Resources Manager, VIM Berkshires
Energy and enthusiasm levels were high on the evening of October 20 when about 30 VIM direct-care providers gathered in the clinic. This was the first time that clinical volunteers from the medical, mental health, optometry, nutrition and dental teams met as a group, with the main goal to promote and better understand opportunities for integrated services.
One of the defining aspects of VIM is the number of volunteers involved, their varied professional backgrounds and training. Volunteers’ diverse skills and numbers have created the strong, integrated program that we offer. Most come on a specific day of the week, sometimes on a weekly or biweekly basis. That builds continuity for the day’s teams, and continuity for the patients. But that also means that volunteers often don’t have an opportunity to get to know others, whose schedules don’t overlap.
Working together, the clinic has grown tremendously in the past year or two: grown in services offered, grown in number of providers, grown in patient visits. With this growth we constantly aim to ensure that our patient-centered system is based on high quality and effective communication among caregivers … caregivers who often don’t have a chance to meet face-to-face.
The meeting agenda was packed, so social time to enjoy snacks and chat with other providers was limited. But even that limited time gave volunteers whose schedules might never overlap a chance to meet and touch base with each other; to put a face to a name that they may have only heard; to meet other providers. Medical Services Director Ilana Steinhauer, FNP, led the meeting, underlining the importance of integrated services to our patients’ well-being. The more informed providers are, the more they are able to speak with their patients about utilizing those other modalities. Steinhauer reviewed all the services VIM offers, including the newest, our participation in Berkshire Health Systems’ Social Determinants of Health Program, in which aspects of daily life that influence health, such as food insecurity or lack of adequate heat, are addressed. She also offered methods for VIM providers to make cross-discipline referrals.
Her hope is that every clinical volunteer is aware of other services available that would help their patients, and knows how to access those services. The goal is better communications and so better integrated services.
The meeting went on to review new clinic-wide procedures for quality assurance and risk management, then broke into team meetings of individual services, during which specific methods of implementing QA and risk management procedures into each team’s work were discussed.
The plan is to arrange regular semi-annual meetings, so that this mix of social time and clinical work will become a regular part of the VIM community. For additional information about VIM Berkshires, visit vimberkshires.org.