Sarah Jo Tomlin, LCSW, loves her job as therapist and leader of Housecall Providers’ new behavioral health program. When describing the power of behavioral health care, Sarah Jo says, “It’s important that my patients know they aren’t being judged. And more than knowing, you can tell when they start to internalize it, to feel it,” she says. “When a patient really feels that connection, their outcomes show it. Relationships are what it is all about.”
Launched in the summer of 2022, the Housecall Providers behavioral health program takes a holistic approach to care and completes an important loop with our patients. Behavioral health addresses and promotes the mental and emotional well-being of patients, including the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness and substance use disorders. Because mental and emotional health affect physical health as well as quality of life, being able to connect behavioral health to primary care makes both more effective.
Sarah Jo explains, “I love that I can send a message to my patient’s primary care provider and they know me.” The program strengthens the communication between the patient and the Housecall Providers primary care team. She continues, “I can say to the provider, ‘This person isn’t sleeping, they need some help with that.’ Or I can ask the patient, ‘Is it ok if I tell Dr. Jossi what you just told me? Because it sounds like something she could help you with.’”
Sarah Jo connects with the Housecall Providers nurses too. A patient might have a rash on their foot and may not have told anyone else. Sarah Jo says, “I often ask questions like, ‘Have you told your care team about this?’ And the patient might say, ‘No, I haven’t yet. I was embarrassed or I haven’t seen her yet.’” Then, with the patient’s approval, she contacts the nurse on the patient’s care team. Sarah Jo is on the front line, getting important care information to the patients’ providers. Reflecting on the importance of that connection, she says, “I think it is a big deal. I think it is important. Closing the loop improves outcomes and it also builds trust.”
The benefits of the Housecall Providers behavioral health program have quickly become apparent in patients’ health outcomes. Homebound individuals and seriously ill members of our community often face especially difficult mental health challenges while coping with their circumstances. Offering our patients a trusted therapy option is an important tool in our approach to holistic care.