Mercy Health Foundation Recognized for Crisis Intervention Efforts

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Direction Home, formerly Area Agency on Aging 11, presented Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley with its 2019 Outstanding AAA Partnership of the Year award Tuesday morning at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital.

“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers and by the individuals you work with all the time, but especially by some of the people that fund the programs,” said Robert Rusu, Mahoning County Probate Court judge. “We’re honored, humbled and excited.”

The award honors the collaborative efforts among the Mercy Health Foundation, Direction Home, the Mahoning County of Mental Health and Recovery Board and the Mahoning County Probate Court to address the needs of at-risk adults in Mahoning County. Individual donations totaling $13,000 helped fund coordinated services for crisis intervention.

“I kept seeing a lot individuals come in front of me. They needed help and they didn’t have anywhere to go,” Rusu said. “I ended up reaching out to each of these organizations on my own.”

After he floated the idea to Direction Home, the recovery board and Mercy Foundation, everyone jumped on board right away, Rusu said. It made more sense if people had one point of contact that could help them navigate the system rather than clients trying to work through several organizations on their own, he said.

“I’m hoping that it’s going to continue to grow, that we’re going to get more individuals like [Douglas Doyle] who would be able to service individuals,” Rusu said. “That way there are more people being serviced.”

Doyle, the crisis intervention and wellness manager at Direction Home of Eastern Ohio and licensed social worker, enjoys pulling together community resources to help people in need.

“Many times, they are our next-door neighbors and they’re in need of help,” Doyle said. “All we have to do is ask, be a good neighbor and see if they have some needs.”

Douglas Doyle, crisis intervention and wellness manager, licensed social worker, Direction Home of Eastern Ohio.

Since its inception last year, the crisis intervention program has assisted nearly 90 Mahoning County residents. The program was designed to be a wraparound program so that folks who may be “falling through the cracks” or at risk are quickly identified, Doyle said.

“It brings all of us together to create an individualized and comprehensive plan to address the specific needs of each adult crisis,” said Paul Homick, president of the Mercy Health Foundation. “The program improves communication among our organizations ensuring that everyone receives all the care they need without duplicating services.”

Only a few cases have been sent to probate court, but many times the crisis program can identify cases before they get to that point, Doyle said, which is a part of the goal. The program also collaborates with Adult Protective Services of Mahoning County as an outreach source for cases involving abuse, he said.

“Many times people are identified by the mental health systems, our staff and hospitals as people who may not be connected with appropriate services to help them stay connected, healthy and active in their own homes,” he said.

Many of the cases Doyle handles involves people who may have underlying mental health issues that have been a barrier for them.

“If we can get them hooked up with the right services, we might be able to have better outcomes in general,” he said. “For instance, if their issue was homelessness and they’re having trouble with home conditions, we can help work to find them the resources to address those problems.”

Typically, Doyle gets between two and six phone calls weekly. The calls are usually pretty benign, he said. Recently, Doyle got a call from Adult Protective Services about a woman who needed night lights for her apartment because of poor vision at night, he said.

“We were able to not only get out there and put a few night lights in the apartment, but also get her hooked up with some services from our agency that would help her in the long run,” Doyle said.

Another recent case involved a man who was in danger of losing his housing, Doyle said. Doyle went out with the mental health officer from the Mahoning County Community Support Network and they conducted an assessment with the man to determine if he was in an immediate mental health crisis, which he wasn’t, he said.

“What he really needed was some help with how to address his housing’s instability,” he said. “We have a few resources that we can help him with that will help with that housing concern especially with the colder months coming up.”

Many of the cases vary, but the common themes that keep popping up involve home conditions and mental health, Doyle said. The program also coordinates with people who might be in an immediate crisis, such as needing hospitalization or seeing their doctor.

“We’ve shown that we’ve been able to reduce recurring visits to the emergency room by getting folks hooked up with the right programs, counselors and the mental health system,” Doyle said.

Areas the program has succeeded in includes getting people to a higher and safer level of existence, so if they weren’t hooked up with a program like the Passport Medicaid waiver program, the crisis program can do that, Doyle said.

“Any given week, I’m usually on the road two to three times to visit folks to see if there’s something we can help with and address,” Doyle said. “There’s much more need out there I feel and it’s good to get our name out there.”

Pictured above: Attending the event were Judge Robert N. Rusu Jr., Mahoning County Probate Court; Paul S. Homick Jr., president, Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley; Joe Rossi, Direction Home of Eastern Ohio CEO; Douglas Doyle, licensed social worker, crisis intervention and wellness manager, Direction Home of Eastern Ohio.

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