|SLVRMC Improves Behavioral Health Services|
Kaitlin 'Katie' Kaser, LSW, is motivated to be a social worker because she enjoys working in a rural community and with people that are facing barriers. Her passion is to help people define their own goals and reduce obstacles that are blocking them from being successful.
As the newest member to join the Behavioral Health Team at SLV Regional Medical Center, Katie is the Health Educator for a grant-funded program called SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment). "My role will be to identify and work with patients that are at risk or are dependent on substances," she stated.
SLVRMC is one of only six clinics in Colorado chosen for the four year grant. Its rural status, as well as the fact that behavioral health is already integrated with several of the physician clinics here, made SLVRMC a good candidate for the evidence-based program.
Prevention Effectively Reduces Substance Abuse
In Colorado and many other states, SBIRT has emerged as a critical strategy for targeting the large but often overlooked population that exceeds low-risk substance use. Research demonstrates that intervening early, with individuals at moderate risk, is effective in reducing substance use, preventing health and other related consequences and in saving healthcare costs.
Katie will screen patients using an evidence-based screening system which is a process that she'll also train medical assistants to do as well. From there, anyone who screens "positive" will receive brief interventions using the Motivational Interviewing techniques. Katie said, "This approach of therapy helps reduce ambivalence while enhancing behavioral change." MI promotes the patient's ability to drive the conversation. This approach is a supportive, empathic style that includes motivation-enhancing strategies such as listening reflectively, strengthening self-worth, using open questions and affirming positive behaviors. "This technique really does make a difference in our health field," she said.
SBIRT Provides Resources and Motivation for Patients
The main purpose of SBIRT is to target potential substance abuse issues — whether it is illegal substances, alcohol, tobacco, or misusing prescriptions — and finding those who are at risk of becoming users. For those who are, Katie will provide a support system for education and other resources that can, if the patient is motivated, help reduce their usage.
"I have experience working with the dynamics of substance abuse and have seen the impact they have on not only themselves but on their families as well. I believe we all can learn new skills to make a step forward to a healthier life," she said and then quoted Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu: "The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."