NYS provides $100K to support TRC’s ‘STARS’ initiative

The Resource Center’s efforts to revolutionize the way it provides care have been bolstered by a $100,000 grant secured by Senator Catharine Young through the New York State Department of Health.

Senator Young worked with The Resource Center to secure the $100,000 for TRC’s broad-scale system integration initiative. The money was used to enhance the agency’s commitment and ability to provide care coordination services to people who receive supports from The Resource Center.

Currently, The Resource Center provides services to more than 15,000 people in Chautauqua County, a figure that represents more than 10 percent of the county’s population. TRC’s new model of care focuses on integrating services around five key life dimensions: basic needs, physical health, behavioral health, family stability, and employment/community involvement. The Resource Center calls the new system “STARS”, an acronym for “System Transformation with Accountability, Results and Satisfaction”.

The Resource Center developed STARS in response to the major changes taking place in the nation’s health care system. The new expectation is that providers will work together to meet all of a person’s needs and focus on results, in contrast to the traditional care model in which services are fragmented and providers don’t always communicate or work collaboratively.

“Because we provide a variety of critical services, such as primary care, dental care, counseling and psychiatric care, social work, and employment assistance, The Resource Center is uniquely positioned to be able to utilize so-called ‘social determinants,’ or critical life elements, that lead to wellness as well as social and economic self sufficiency,” said Paul Cesana, TRC’s executive director. This led to The Resource Center’s decision to develop STARS and undertake a broad-scale integration of the organization’s services.

A key to the STARS model’s success is the integration of teams, plans and information technology. The funding from New York State has supported The Resource Center’s investment into care coordination, which TRC sees as being critical to ensuring integration of teams and plans. In 2011, The Resource Center embedded two care coordinators within its primary care, dental and mental health practices. As part of STARS, those three services recently co-located within TRC’s Carl Cappa Building on East Second Street in Jamestown. Co-location and consolidation of services also have taken place at TRC’s locations on East Third Street and Lake Shore Drive West in Dunkirk.

The care coordinators are fundamental to transition the broad-scale integration project forward and ensure that all of The Resource Center’s providers, plans and practices are connected, for the betterment of each individual being supported. The care coordinators are able to utilize existing electronic health record systems, along with TRC’s external community partners, to assist individuals trying to navigate through the local health care and socioeconomic support systems.

The Resource Center’s system integration also will involve renovation and expansion of its primary care, dental and mental health services. A final key aspect of the STARS model is the integration of information technology. Currently, TRC’s primary care, dental care and mental health service areas each uses a different electronic health record system, and those systems are not compatible with one another. The care coordinators have been trained to use each of the systems, but this is a temporary solution until The Resource Center can obtain a data warehouse and develop an application integration solution.

The necessity of The Resource Center’s broad-scale system integration stems from the organization’s longstanding role as a safety-net health care provider in Chautauqua County. Full implementation of the STARS model will enable TRC to provide better, more efficient services at a lower cost while leading to improved results for the thousands of people that TRC serves. This will enhance The Resource Center’s long-term sustainability and will also reduce the community’s health care costs.

For more information about STARS, phone The Resource Center at 483-2344 or visit TRC’s website, www.resourcecenter.org.