WINCHESTER — Several local nonprofit organizations have launched a regional care network that makes it easier to link area residents to services they need.
The network, called Connect NSV, links community members (clients) to services while allowing service providers to communicate in real time about their shared clients’ care and then track the outcomes together.
Nonprofit agencies can share information and refer clients to the service providers that can best help them. Referrals are sent through United Us, but Connect NSV clients must consent to being a part of the database.
United Way of the Northern Shenandoah Valley spearheaded the efforts to create the network. The program launched in August with six nonprofit agencies and added seven new partners earlier this month.
United Way President Nadine Pottinga said 200 families have joined the network since its launch. These families have received referrals for such things as rent and utility assistance, health care, money management/budgeting and job training.
Pottinga said that before the network launched, it was difficult for different nonprofit agencies to share information. Many people who needed help would often go to multiple agencies before they found the one that would be able to help them. Then they would have to fill out intake forms at each agency. The new network only requires a client to fill out one intake form that can be shared by the agencies. The intake form can be filled out at: unitedwaynsv.org/van-get-help.
Connect NSV was created as part of a five-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Adminstration. SAMHSA has estimated that, by 2020, mental and substance use disorders will surpass all physical diseases as a major cause of disability. Valley Health and George Mason University applied for the grant, which will fully pay for the United Us Platform through the end of 2021. No United Way NSV campaign funds were used to pay for the technology.
Connect NSV also uses an evidence-based practice known as SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) to identify substance misuse in the community and offer early intervention and treatment for people at risk, before they need advanced treatment.
“A lot of times these folks don’t get screened until they are in the hospital,” Pottinga said. “Part of this grant is they wanted community agencies to be trained to do the screenings so [people misusing substances] can be caught before they ended up in the hospital.”
Nine questions screen for possible risky behaviors associated with drug or alcohol abuse or depression. If a client receives a positive screen, they can accept a referral to Winchester Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Department.
“We are thrilled with the early results of the screenings,” said United Way Director of Community Engagement Jennifer Hall in an email to The Star. “To date, partners have conducted 179 screenings. The majority have been conducted at Valley Assistance Network (VAN) during our intake process — 65 screened positive in at least one of the categories (substance abuse, alcohol abuse or depression) [and] 38 of those people accepted a referral to Valley Health.”
Hall says this means the network was able to connect an additional 38 people to substance abuse or mental health services who likely wouldn’t have received or sought out assistance.
Pottinga said United Way is trying to recruit more agencies into joining Connect NSV. For more information on the program, contact United Way’s Valley Assistance Network at 540-773-3178 or visit its office at 411 N. Cameron St. Suite 210.
“We are so proud at United Way NSV to be able to host this incredible resource for our community,” Pottinga said. “What started with interest meetings a year ago has grown into a large-scale network, where partners can communicate in real time, helping more people and decreasing duplication of services.”
The seven newest network partners include:
Blue Ridge Housing
Literacy Volunteers Winchester Area
NW WORKS, Inc.
They join the following original partners:
New Eve Maternity Home
Northern Shenandoah Valley Substance Abuse Coalition
The Dr. Terry Sinclair Health Clinic/Sinclair Health Clinic
Valley Assistance Network