SMH CEO joins top executives at business-focused health care summit

Patrick Evans

Joining numerous community leaders, SMH President & CEO Patrick Evans served as a panelist during the Puget Sound Business Journal’s Health Care of the Future, on Friday, March 24. Speaking at The Fairmount Olympic Hotel in Seattle, Evans was joined by executives from Sabey Corporation, Downtown Seattle Association, Columbia Hospitality, Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC), Vision House, El Gaucho Hospitality, and other leading organizations.

This year’s summit, the eighth-annual event, focused on the timely topic of behavioral health. Untreated mental illness and substance use, as well as homelessness in the community, has a significant impact on the economy and businesses. Behavioral health issues alone cost US companies more than $300 billion annually and over-utilization of law enforcement, the court system, the emergency care system and hospitals by people struggling with mental health and substance use issues cost tax payers hundreds of thousands annually.

The Business Journal’s Health Care of the Future offered a closer look at the challenges facing our community around behavioral health issues and featured lively discussion about promising practices and potential solutions to help address the issue.

The event featured two monitored panels. Joining Mr. Evans on the “The Revolving Door Syndrome and How to Exit It” panel were DESC Executive Director Daniel Malone, Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Jon Scholes, and Vision House Family Services Director Sarah ButlerWills. Evans presented a program SMH developed to address the cycle of hospital readmissions among people struggling with mental health and substance use issues, its Hospital Transition Support Program. This program works with every regional medical center and hospital in the county. Transition Support works directly with mental health clients to identify issues and barriers and successfully transition them out of hospitals and into the community.

The program developed to help the most costly utilizers of health care services move beyond the endless cycle of discharge-and-readmission from primary care facilities. The program’s success is attributed to the multidisciplinary approach used to provide comprehensive and tailored case management, care coordination, behavioral health therapeutic services, medication management and other essential support to reintegrate into the community.

Evans also offered thoughts about limited resources and coordination of care within the industry.

“I think the resources are well intended,” he observed, “but not well coordinated.”

His hope is that, as agencies continue to innovate, they will seek creative ways to collaborate and coordinate care for better outcomes and optimization of the limited resources made available to community mental health and organizations that address homelessness.

The other panel, which featured executives from Sabey Corporation, Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream, Columbia Hospitality, and El Gaucho Hospitality, offered a look at the investments these businesses made in robust mental health plans.