The Board of Directors of Lakes Region Mental Health Center (LRMHC) held their 53rd Annual Meeting, “Inspiring Hope in Recovery” on October 22, 2019 at Contigiani’s Event & Conference Center in Gilford, NH. Three new board members were welcomed to LRMHC: Atty. Peter Minkow of Minkow and Mahoney Mullen, P.A.; Laura LeMien, Registrar at Lakes Region Community College; and Marlin Collingwood, Interim Vice President of Communications, Enrollment & Student Life at Plymouth State University. The elected slate of officers for 2019 – 2020 include Jannine Sutcliffe, President; Deb Pendergast, Past President; Gail Mears, Vice President; Matt Soza and Edward McFarland as Co-Treasurers; and Susan Stearns, Secretary.

Randy Pierce, who was the featured keynote speaker, is founder of the charitable organization 2020 Vision Quest and is an entrepreneur, adventurer and philanthropist. A lifelong New Hampshire resident, he graduated from UNH in 1988 with a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and began his first career as a computer hardware design engineer. Spare-time pursuits since college have included extensive experience in martial arts, hiking, skiing, bicycling, and running road races. Randy is also totally blind. Always embodying the 2020 Vision Quest theme of “Achieve a Vision Beyond Your Sight,” he has continually forged ahead to experience an amazing variety of adventures and accomplishments.

Jannine Sutcliffe, Board President, recapped past year achievements which included collaboration with community partners to provide staff coverage for The Doorway at LRGHealthcare to ensure individuals with substance misuse and co-occurring mental illness receive timely and appropriate treatment, implementation of the Bridge program which provides individuals with a severe & persistent mental illness diagnosis access to needed housing and the expansion of substance use disorder treatment services.

“We continue to work with the Laconia Police Department, the Belknap County House of Corrections and other law enforcement officers to reduce ER usage by creating a pathway of care for individuals who need our services. Additionally, given that NH’s demographics are rapidly changing, we have expanded our neuro-cognitive services to address health care needs unique to an aging population.

Healthcare institutions are reengineering internal processes to improve the patient-care experiences. According to Anil Swami of Accenture, ‘Meeting the basic needs of patients and customers requires improving established modes of working. To create a customer-centric service experience, different departments need to collaborate and share information in new ways. Processes must be in place to protect confidential information, of course, but ultimately the goal is to make it easier for patients to get the care and support they need.’

Access to mental health services remains one of the top challenges facing local residents according to the 2017 Central NH Health Partnership Community Health Needs Assessment and the 2017 LRGH Community Health Needs Assessment. Oftentimes, patients are waiting weeks for an intake appointment. Over the next year, LRMHC will be implementing SAME DAY ACCESS, meaning that those who seek mental health treatment will be able to meet with a clinician that day for an initial intake as opposed to waiting weeks for an appointment. This is a significant change in how we currently deliver services. In order to accomplish this, the first step will be to automate the patient registration process so that a patient’s medical history can be uploaded into the EMR (Electronic Medical Record) in real time to enable immediate access of this information by providers.

As an organization, we know we must continue to evolve and adapt to meet the requirements and challenges posed by managed care, health reform, workforce shortages and other external forces that affect our funding and our services. We have a flexible team who consistently goes above and beyond to ensure seamless services despite the challenging environment.

Our community partnerships are critical to our work, and we will continue to collaborate with other health care providers, the criminal justice system, law enforcement, schools and many others to improve access to care and ensure that there is a continuum of care for our patients that leads to the best positive outcomes,” Sutcliffe said.