Integrating Care: Daily Planet Health Services in Richmond, VA makes the transformation

Submitted by: 04/16/2018 by Maureen Fitzgerald

Superman fans know Daily Planet as the home of the fictional newspaper of the same name, where Clark Kent and Lois Lane report the latest crime news.

But Daily Planet Health Services is also a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Richmond, Virginia. In 2017, Daily Planet Health Services saw more than 7,200 patients, most from the greater Richmond metro area. As a Healthcare for the Homeless grantee, it also serves transient patients from across the country.

The organizations began in 1969 as a non-profit ministry to young adults in need of food, shelter, and health and counseling services. It became an FQHC in 1987.

“Our first clients named us “The Daily Planet” to acknowledge how the services they received changed them, comparing their recovery to Clark Kent’s transformation from mild-mannered reporter to super hero,” says Maureen Neal, Chief Operating Officer. “In fact, the first logo for The Daily Planet was a little red phone booth.”

Transformation is a theme at the Daily Planet. In Septemger 2017, the organization celebrated its new status as an FQHC with an Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT) program offering  medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine (Suboxone®). The OBOT is an addition to the primary care, behavioral health care, and dental care services already available.

“We are the only urban FQHC in the commonwealth of Virginia operating an OBOT program,” explains Neal. “As of March 1, 2018, we have four medical prescribers serving 38 patients in the program, and we expect to reach 100 patients by the end of the year.”

All of Daily Planet’s behavioral health clinicians have been trained in mental health counseling, trauma informed care, and substance use disorder treatment, and all will be playing a bigger role in integrated care treatment plans.

Becoming a FQHC with an OBOT program first required getting buy-in from Daily Planet Health Services board of directors and some medical staff, says Neal.

“We had to overcome some misconceptions about medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders,” she explains. “To do this, we provided education about both the community need and our capacity to provide this particular type of primary health and behavioral health integrated care.”

Education and awareness building efforts included a presentation from the Veterans Administration (VA) staff member who designed the OBOT program for the entire VA. A primary care provider working with the only other Virginia FQHC with an OBOT program gave another educational presentation.

Neal says that Daily Planet’s integrated care efforts began with NIATx.

“We were pleased to have been selected to participate in a NIATx Healthcare Reform/Integration of Substance Abuse and Primary Care in FQHCs learning collaborative in 2010,” says Neal.

“We continued to use the NIATx tools and build relationships long after the collaborative ended. Today, we are excited to be able to help meet the community need in organizing against this incredibly deadly addiction.”  

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