As part of the process of developing an Action Plan for the 2014-2019 period, Partners for a Healthier Community organized eight Task Forces to review pertinent data and make recommendations for future action. In November 2013, the Access to Healthcare Task Force made recommendations for improving access to behavioral health services but also recommended that a more in-depth analysis take place before making final recommendations for the Action Plan. Executive Director David Weed convened two ninety-minute follow-up sessions, one on March 11th and the other on April 15th, to further the discussion. Representatives from Saint Anne's Hospital, Southcoast Hospitals, M-Power, South Bay Mental Health, the Children's Advocacy Center of Bristol County, Arbour Counseling Services, and HealthFirst Family Care Center participated in the discussion. Issues noted in the discussion included lack of psychiatrists, especially for children, and lack of reimbursement for wrap-around services for Medicare patients, Consensus was reached that a region-wide task force is needed to advocate for changes in regulations and reimbursement rates. For more information, contact Dr. Weed at 508-324-2405. (Photos courtesy of Zainab Abbas)

(Top row, left) Amanda Lee of South Bay Mental Health and Linda Hennessey of HealthFirst Family Care Center listen as Michelle Loranger of the Children's Advocacy Center, center, offers a comment. (Top row, center) Donna Amaral of Saint Anne's Behavioral Health programs talks about some of the systemic problems in providing care. (Top row, right) Dr. James Farrelley of the Corrigan Mental Health Center listens as Dr. Weed describes the Action Planning process. (Middle row, center) Al Araujo of M-Power talks about the effects on patients of the lack of adequately-funded services. (Bottom row, left) Brittany Lynch and Tracy Ibbotson of Saint Anne's Hospital listen as Donna Amaral talks about ways to better support psychiatric professionals. (Bottom row, right) Kelly DeMenzes of Arbour Counseling talks to Sarah Pequita of Southcoast Hospitals about the need to develop advocacy on these issues for the South Coast Region.

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