Partner Spotlight Series: Gay Men's Health Crisis Partner Spotlight Series: Gay Men's Health Crisis

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Gay Men's Health Crisis

In 1981, 80 men informally joined together to raise money for what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) labeled as “gay cancer,” thus beginning the formation of Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC).

Since its inception over 36 years ago, the organization has provided patient care to several client demographics that extend beyond its founding name. Dr. Bill Bracker, Senior Vice President of Programs and Clinical Services, said, “Our name is historic because we were the first agency to respond to the HIV crisis in the world, but while we’ve maintained that name because it’s where our roots are, it doesn’t entirely reflect the clients we serve.” In 2016 alone, GMHC served 12,665 patients comprised of 61.5% gay clients, 28.2% heterosexual clients, 74% male clients, 25.1% female clients, 54.4% HIV-positive individuals, and 45.6% HIV-negative individuals. In fact, GMHC recently opened an OMH-licensed mental health clinic and an OASAS-licensed substance use clinic and has expanded its housing program. And being a part of DSRIP has certainly encouraged GMHC to continue to identify innovative ways to reach these broader populations. 

Exploring New Ways To Provide Better Patient Care

“DSRIP provides us with an opportunity to work on some efficiency projects that we would have liked to do, but didn’t have the resources to do,” said Ailish Bateman, GMHC’s Senior Director of Data and Evaluation.   

For example, GMHC has implemented processes to help track client enrollment in mental health programs and understand client needs more effectively. Within the past year, GMHC has started to use the Patient Health Questionnaire PHQ-2 and PHQ-9 screening tools to assess appropriate client treatments. Clients coming in through the central intake department receive the PHQ-2 screening, and if a patient receives a positive score, he/she is routed to GMHC’s mental health department. These clients later receive the PHQ-9 screening and can be referred to a psychiatrist based on the test outcome. Staff will then follow up with clients who scored at a certain level to make sure they receive the appropriate treatment.

Karen Landovitz, Senior Director of Mental Health Services, said of this workflow, “This gives us a more standardized way of identifying depression at an early stage, so when someone enrolls in mental health services we can identify issues the client is coming in with instantly.”

Additionally, GMHC has been able to invest more time to enhance its electronic health record (EHR). This includes making screening data available in the EHR as well as expanding its medication adherence protocol in the EHR to include a check box for psychiatric medication adherence.

Photo Courtesy of Gay Men's Health Crisis

Photo Courtesy of Gay Men's Health Crisis

Most recently, GMHC rolled out a blood-pressure screening initiative. A nurse practitioner (NP) will hold six screenings throughout the year for any of the agency’s clients. This is crucial for clients because their prescribed medication, whether it be for HIV or psychiatric issues, can have a metabolic effect on them, and clients may not be aware of this effect. In order to track this appropriately, a new program will be created in the EHR specific to this screening. If a client has a high blood pressure reading, the NP will mark this off in the EHR and follow up with the patient’s physician.

As GMHC continues to implement new initiatives to align with both DSRIP and MSPPS goals, it hopes to leverage these new ideas to different facets of its organization that may not necessarily be touched by DSRIP. Dr. Bracker said, “Our impact is quite a bit greater than the patient attribution assigned to our organization, and the kind of work we do helps make sure people’s conditions are being treated properly—helping us support the DSRIP vision.” 

For more information on Gay Men’s Health Crisis, please click here.