Kentucky REC Participates in Healthy Kentucky Initiative – Behavioral Health

Kentucky REC Participates in Healthy Kentucky Initiative – Behavioral Health

The American Hospital Association recently celebrated Community Health Improvement Week on June 12th-18th. This yearly event is a time to honor the people working in partnership to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities. Members of the Kentucky REC team are participating in the UK HealthCare Healthy Kentucky Behavioral Health Community of Practice, listed below as part of the Healthy Kentucky Initiative. We are proud of this important work in helping primary and specialty practices gain the tools and resources to address the behavioral health needs of their patients. You may access these resources here.

As one university, UK HealthCare is committed to advancing Kentucky by transforming the health and wellness of communities across the Commonwealth. UK HealthCare is working not only to provide access to care close to home but to address wellness and prevention outside our walls to help people in our communities live their healthiest lives. The Healthy Kentucky Initiative was created to support the 5th Objective of our strategic plan: Create a Healthier Kentucky. They work collaboratively across our health system, campus and community to advance wellness, health education and awareness focusing on those community members most at risk for poor health outcomes.

“Actively working to create a culture of health is fundamental to community health and wellness. The Healthy Kentucky Initiative has worked closely with the Behavioral Health Leadership team to provide accessible mental health resources. These efforts provide a clear reminder that mental health is health and is essential to community well-being.” said Dr. Seth Himelhoch, Professor and Chair, Department of Psychiatry.

UK HealthCare is not alone in this vision. Recently, health systems nationwide have focused on expanding wellness and prevention efforts and improving health equity. The Healthy Kentucky Initiative team partners closely with Dr. Tukea Talbert, Chief Diversity Officer and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to promote health equity. Overwhelmingly, studies find that non-medical factors (social, behavioral & environmental determinants) play a significant role in overall health. UK HealthCare cares about the whole person and is working to help our friends and neighbors lead the best and healthiest life possible.

Community Health Improvement Programming – New Initiatives Include:

  • Community Commitment microsite: Created to share the great work our health system is doing to create a healthier Kentucky
  • Online Q.P.R (Question, Persuade, Refer) training: Free, self-paced online suicide prevention training
  • 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: National and state marketing and messaging alignment
  • Behavioral Health Community of Practice: A virtual collaborative focused on helping primary care providers address low acuity mental health concerns; maintain recordings and resources on both UK HealthCare and Kentucky REC websites; attendees were offered Mental Health First Aid training at no cost
  • Youth Mental Health Modules: We are working to launch school-based and athletic modules focused on providing resources to teachers and administrators
  • Be a Diabetes A.C.E. Day: A one-day “boot-camp” for diabetes lifestyle management
  • The Lung Cancer Screening Collaborative Series: This webinar series focuses on the equitable implementation of lung cancer screening in our communities
  • Walk with a Doc: A free walking series available to the community
  • Cooking Videos: cooking videos focused on recipes for specific disease states
  • Be Healthy Bash: A free community wellness fun day focused on increasing uptake of healthy behaviors
  • Diabetes Cooking Classes: Cooking classes were offered free of charge to our patients with diabetes

“We’re leveraging the assets of this great university to help enhance our common goals. We can use those assets to really impact these very tough, challenging problems in a way that a lot of organizations can’t,” said Trudi Matthews, Senior Director of Quality and Value Strategy and Director of the Healthy Kentucky Initiative.

The Healthy Kentucky Initiative works together with campus and community partners to elevate and amplify the message of wellness and strategically implement new programs to address health for the community at large. Some of their partners include:

  • UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  • Food as Health Alliance
  • The Food Connection at the University of Kentucky
  • UK Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion
  • UK Gill Heart & Vascular Institute
  • UK HealthCare Community & Retail Pharmacy Services
  • UK Integrative Medicine & Health
  • UK Behavioral Health Leadership
  • UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center
  • Kentucky Children’s Hospital
  • UK Markey Cancer Center, QUILS (Quality Implementation Lung Cancer Screening) and KY Leads
  • UK Human Resources
  • UK College of Medicine
  • UK Student Success
  • Kentucky Regional Extension Center
  • Lexington Farmers’ Market
  • Bluegrass Lions Diabetes Project
  • FoodChain
  • The Nest
  • The Fatherhood Initiative

Dr. Kristen Stakelin, Medical Director for the Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center says, “I have had the Be Healthy Bash, the Be a Diabetes A.C.E. Day, and the cooking classes for diabetes on my wish list for several years – patient education is a passion of mine. There are often so many barriers that our patients face to receive the quality healthcare and education they need. However, we hadn’t been able to find the support to launch any of these community programs until we were able to partner with the Healthy Kentucky Initiative. All of a sudden, we had a team of people helping us work on making these events a reality. It was fantastic to see our network across UK Healthcare and the local community instantly broaden with the common goal of improving the health of people across the Commonwealth. I hope to continue partnering with the Healthy Kentucky Initiative in the future to improve the lives of those we serve. This has been a fantastic opportunity.”

Original article by Lori Maddux, Coordinator, Healthy Kentucky Iniative, published in UKNOW

Do you have questions on how to meet the needs of your patient population and improve the quality of healthcare? Contact us at Kentucky REC with your questions. Our team of experts is here to help: 859-323-3090.

PCMH Behavioral Health Distinction – Kentucky Mountain Health Alliance

Kentucky Mountain Health Alliance, Inc. (KMHA) was created in 2005 by a group of community healthcare and social service partners who shared a mission to create a healthcare safety net for the under-served or at risk for homelessness population. KMHA is proactive in their effort to protect the health of and deliver essential human services to the homeless or those at risk, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.

KMHA has been operating the Perry County HCH Program since 2006. They have one permanent service delivery site, Little Flower Clinic, located at 279 East Main Street, Hazard, KY in the heart of Perry County, Kentucky. They also have one mobile medical clinic that travels to the far outreach places within Perry County, Kentucky. KMHA believes in the importance of a holistic approach to health (i.e. attending to the physical, spiritual, mental, cultural, emotional and social well-being) and their role in contributing to health outcomes for the homeless population. This includes the environmental determinants of health such as food, water, housing and unemployment, as well as the social drivers of health and well-being, or socioeconomic conditions (e.g., concentrated poverty and the stressful conditions that accompany it).

KMHA provides a full array of quality medical, behavioral, and oral health care, as well as chronic disease case management, transportation, outreach and an overall improved experience for patients and their families in ways that demonstrate our commitment to rural health care.

Little Flower Clinic has made Patient-Centered Medical Home recognition a high priority since 2015. And in 2023 Little Flower Clinic was recognized by NCQA with a distinction in Behavioral Health Integration.

When asked the question, “Why did Little Flower Clinic begin the journey of the Behavioral Health Distinction?”, Ellen Vance, CEO responded with one simple answer: “It knocks down barriers to behavioral health services and improves overall health”.

NCQA states: The Distinction in Behavioral Health Integration “helps practices provide comprehensive whole person care that acknowledges the behavioral health needs of the individual beyond the core requirements for NCQA PCMH Recognition.

With the help of Kentucky REC’s Vance Drakeford, a NCQA PCMH Certified Content Expert, Little Flower Clinic received the Distinction in Behavioral Health in 2023. Due to recent turnover, Ms. Vance was hesitant to add another recognition project to her new staff, so she contracted with the previous Quality Director, Vicky Hardin to take lead. The Kentucky REC was able to guide Vicky and her team through the process and maximize their efforts to achieve recognition.

We interviewed Vicky Hardin about Little Flower Clinic’s journey to Behavioral Health Recognition:

  • Little Flower Clinic has been a recognized Patient-Centered Medical Home since 2015, so why was the journey to Behavioral Health distinction so important? “After analyzing UDS data over the course of several years, we identified that 25% of our patient population has a diagnosis of depression. Patients tend to seek help from their medical provider instead of being referred outside for behavioral services. It was really a no brainer to integrate a behavioral health care team within our primary care. Our patients who seek help with their behavioral health needs are now getting the whole-person care they deserve.
  • What about the level of physician engagement? “We have wonderful providers who believe strongly in our mission to provide whole-person care. Our providers, whether it be medical, dental or behavioral health collaborate together to deliver the best quality of care.”
  • How well did PCMH recognition prepare your practice for the Behavioral Health add-on? “Out of the 18 criteria related to behavioral health, 7 are included in the PCMH Recognition standards. For recognized practices, that means you are almost 50% complete. As we identified during PCMH transformation, we were already doing some of the work but weren’t documenting consistently. The same issue was identified for the remaining 11 criteria in the Behavioral Health Distinction. Also, the enrollment and submission process in QPASS for Behavioral Health Distinction are the same as PCMH recognition.”
  • What are some processes implemented in the last year to receive BH distinction? “One of the major changes we implemented was CDS rules for our behavioral health providers. Our providers reviewed the different behavioral screenings and identified rules that would guide them in next steps of the treatment plan. Also, our policy changed in regards to medical patients who scored poorly on the PHQ-9. If patient scores poorly, our behavioral health team will examine the patient during the medical visit and provide recommendations to meet their current behavioral health needs.”
  • How did the REC help? “Vance was instrumental in Little Flower receiving the Behavioral Health Distinction. His understanding of what NCQA is looking for and how he communicated to me is exactly what I needed to move forward. He was always available for any questions and shared appreciated feedback on documentation that I was using for submission. Also, he assisted with the enrollment and the submission process.”

Do you have questions about how to improve behavioral health services in your practice, or Patient-Centered Medical Home or Specialty Practice Recognition? Contact us at Kentucky REC with your questions. Our team of experts is here to help: 859-323-3090.

Primary Care Providers! Feb 2 Webinar – Brief Mental Health Interventions to Incorporate into Primary Care

Webinars and Resources

Behavioral Health Community of Practice

The Behavioral Health Community of Practice, organized by UK HealthCare & Kentucky REC, connects adult and pediatric primary care providers, specialists and organizations through learning sessions where behavioral health experts present best practices, tools and resources to optimize mental health care.

The format of the Community of Practice is monthly one-hour webinar meetings October 2022 through May 2023 from noon – 1 pm. Each session includes education, best practice overviews, interactive trainings on tools and resources, and group discussions.


Session 5 – Thursday Feb. 2nd
Noon — 1:00 pm ET

Brief Interventions to Incorporate into Primary Care

  • Evidence-based guidelines
  • How teams can support non-pharmacological interventions
  • Addressing behavioral health needs in primary care

There’s an App for That Flyer

Visit HERE for more information and to register for upcoming events, including FREE Mental Health First Aid Training.

To learn more, visit THIS UK HealthCare web page.

QUESTIONS? Contact us at Kentucky REC or call us: 859-323-3090.