Open Sky Community Services, Genesis Club Partner on Care

March 5, 2019 — Two Worcester-based nonprofits that provide services to people with mental illness, Open Sky Community Services and Genesis Club, recently announced they have formed a collaboration, supported by a $50,000 grant, aimed at simplifying the way care providers work with individuals and connect them with appropriate social agencies.

Funding for the effort established last fall, called the Psychiatric Outreach Service and Training Collaboration, came from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts (HFCM).

Ken Bates, president and CEO of Open Sky Community Services, said one goal of the effort is to connect people hospitalized with mental health challenges to a case manager through the Central Community Health Partnership who can help individuals insured through the MassHealth program to navigate their medical care and other needs such as housing, nutrition, substance use disorders, and more.

“We know that case management can make a huge difference in people’s lives,” said Bates. “And if we can go further to connect people with the community agencies addressing social determinants such as housing, nutrition, and more, we can really make a difference in their quality of life. It has been a pleasure for us to partner with Genesis who does such great work in meeting with individuals in inpatient settings.”

Ruth Osterman, program director of Genesis Club, said the collaboration already has made a significant difference in how the organization interacts with individuals who are hospitalized for psychiatric illnesses.

"We used to hold group meetings with anyone who wanted to come, and we would talk about why people could benefit from being a member of a clubhouse like Genesis. Now, we meet individually and mostly, we listen," she said.

Osterman and her colleagues listen to learn about the needs people have when they come out of the hospital. In the first few months of the collaboration, Genesis staff and peers have met with nearly 30 people whose needs have included housing, employment, education, benefits assistance, and substance use/recovery in addition to ongoing treatment or supports related to their mental health challenges.

Last month, Genesis and Open Sky with a number of agencies focused on health reform, including Venture Community Services, AdCare Hospital, LUK, Inc., Elder Services of Greater Worcester, YOU, Inc., Worcester Community Action Council, Southeast Asian Coalition, YWCA, and Center for Living and Working.

“Working together to address the needs of very vulnerable citizens of the central Mass. area is our best hope of providing the kind of comprehensive services and supports that people need,” said Lisa Brennan, executive director of Genesis Club.

Janice Yost, president and CEO of HFCM, noted, "This project comes at a key time with the launch of new MassHealth Accountable Care Organizations and community partners. During this time of transition, it is especially important to ensure that patients are connected with the services they need."