Geographic barriers, cultural concerns
Building a strong care team to support community mental health is a top priority for Forest County Potawatomi. By turning to telepsychiatry, the community has overcome geographic and cultural barriers to make that vision a reality.
Located in Crandon, Wisconsin, Forest County Potawatomi provides healthcare, education and other services to families living on the reservation. Most staff live more than an hour’s drive away, making it difficult to recruit quality behavioral health professionals on-site. As a result, residents often had to travel up to three hours away to receive care, preventing many from receiving the treatment they needed.
The tribal community also needed mental health clinicians who would be sensitive to the residents’ challenges, from ongoing substance abuse issues to years of intergenerational trauma. After trying unsuccessfully for six months to hire an in-person clinician, Forest County Potawatomi recognized that telepsychiatry could connect the community to a broad range of clinically and culturally appropriate professionals.
Establishing an effective team
Forest County Potawatomi partnered with Array Behavioral Care to expand access to behavioral health. As a leading provider of integrated telepsychiatry services, Array provides the high-quality clinicians, tools and support to improve mental health access for all, regardless of where they live.
From the start, the two organizations have shared a commitment to delivering services personalized for the tribal community’s residents. Array matched Forest County Potawatomi with a skilled telepsychiatrist and advanced practice nurse, and both Array staff and the clinicians visited the community in person to build rapport with the on-site staff. To help address substance abuse issues in the community, Array's clinicians and medical director collaborated with local care teams to prescribe controlled substances only when necessary.
That collaboration extends to all aspects of the program, with Array's clinicians charting directly into Forest County Potawatomi’s EHR and meeting with on-site staff to discuss specific patients and treatments. Patients see the same clinician weekly, helping to build trust and make treatment more effective. Potawatomi’s advanced practice nurse has even provided care on-site as the two organizations continue to strengthen their working relationship. Forest County Potawatomi also collects patient feedback directly through Array's AtHome videoconferencing platform, to monitor and continually improve its services.