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Heywood Healthcare Launches TeleBehavioral Health Program in Schools with Funding from the Health Policy Commission

May 5, 2017

On Thursday, April 27th, representatives from the Health Policy Commission presented $425,000 in funding for Heywood Healthcare to implement new School Based TeleBehavioral Health Services to address the existing behavioral health needs and the gaps in care for the North Central and North Quabbin region, in particular for youth and children.

This collaborative model will leverage interactive video conferencing technology to increase access to behavioral health services for school aged children and their families in a convenient and non-threatening setting. The project is a partnership between Heywood Healthcare, Narragansett Regional and Ralph C. Mahar Regional School Districts in partnership with Clinical Support Options, Northeast Telehealth Resource Center and Mclean Hospital.

Heywood Healthcare’s new TeleBehavioral Health model shifts the traditional model of behavioral health treatment from being isolated in clinical settings to the community, reaching children in a familiar setting where there is a support system. Behavioral Health services will now be directly accessed in the school, breaking down barriers by offering timely access, lower costs, and reduced time constraints, while filling service gaps inherent in rural areas.

This collaborative venture has gained support at the State House, as well. Senator Anne Gobi sees this new venture of positively impacting area youth. "Having the ability to make sure people in our more rural areas are able to access health care is a necessity,” she stated. “This grant is critical piece in providing services. I appreciate all that Heywood Healthcare has done and continues to do for our region"

Additionally, Representative Susannah Whipps agrees the implementation of tele-health services can enhance the health and wellbeing of the entire region. "This grant will help allow local residents, who choose to live in our beautiful rural region, to access behavioral health services around the world to get the care they need and deserve.” Representative Whipps thanks the Health Policy Commission for recognizing the need for these important services and Heywood Healthcare for being a leader in providing quality services to our region.

“Massachusetts is home to some of the most creative, forward-thinking health care leaders in the world. This unique initiative from Heywood Healthcare will increase access to behavioral health services by integrating telemedicine technology directly into schools to address a current unmet need,” said David Seltz, HPC Executive Director. “This award promotes the HPC’s commitment to transformation and innovation in our health care system. We look forward to continuing to partner with Heywood Healthcare and the communities it serves to build a more coordinated and affordable health care system.”

“Heywood Healthcare is steadfast in our commitment to improving access to healthcare services,” shared Dawn Casavant, Vice President of Philanthropy and External Affairs for Heywood Healthcare. Early identification and access to behavioral health services are pivotal to the health and well-being of our region’s youth, and we are grateful for the support of the Health Policy Commission, and the willingness of our local school districts to work in partnership to bridge existing gaps in care.“

For more information on the TeleBehavioral Health grant and the programs it supports, please contact Maureen Donovan, Project Manager, at (978) 249-3703.


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About Athol Hospital
A member of the Heywood Healthcare system, Athol Hospital is a 25-bed non-profit, acute care and outpatient facility serving the communities of the North Quabbin region of Massachusetts. Athol Hospital’s services include 24/7 Emergency Care, Oncology, Radiology and Laboratory, Diabetes Center and Center for Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. It is designated as a Critical Access Hospital and Primary Stroke Center, licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and accredited by the Joint Commission.

About Heywood Hospital
A member of the Heywood Healthcare system, Heywood Hospital is a 134-bed acute care hospital in Gardner, MA, which provides a broad range of high quality medical, surgical, obstetrical, pediatric and behavioral health services on an inpatient and outpatient basis. The hospital’s Centers of Excellence include the Watkins Center for Emergency and Acute Care; the LaChance Maternity Center; the Diabetes Center; and the Heywood Heart and Vascular Center, an affiliate of the Heart and Vascular Center of Excellence at UMass Memorial Health Care.

About Heywood Healthcare
Heywood Healthcare is an independent, community-owned healthcare system serving north central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. It is comprised of Heywood Hospital, a non-profit, 134-bed acute-care hospital in Gardner, MA; Athol Hospital, a 25-bed not-for-profit, Critical Access Hospital in Athol, MA; the Quabbin Retreat in Petersham, MA; and Heywood Medical Group with primary care physicians and specialists located throughout the region. The organization includes six satellite facilities in MA; Heywood Rehabilitation Center and Heywood Urgent Care in Gardner; West River Health Center in Orange; Winchendon Health Center and Murdock School-based Health Center in Winchendon; Heywood Charitable Foundation; the North Quabbin Community Coalition, an affiliate organization; and The Quabbin Retreat in Petersham.

About the Health Policy Commission
The Health Policy Commission (HPC) is an independent state agency established through Chapter 224 of the Acts of 2012, the Commonwealth’s landmark health care cost containment law. The HPC, led by an 11-member Board with diverse experience in health care, is charged with developing health policy that reduces overall cost growth while improving the quality of care, and monitoring the health care delivery and payment systems in Massachusetts. The HPC’s mission is to advance a more transparent, accountable, and innovative health care system through its independent policy leadership and investment programs. Visit us at Mass.gov/HPC. Tweet us @Mass_HPC