Community Health Improves for the
first year of Ollie Harris Center

Individual lives and community health in Cleveland County have never been better thanks to an outstanding first year for the Ollie Harris Behavioral Health Center.

Due to a unique urgent access and shared triage process, people desperately in need of mental health or substance use disorder services can reach professionals and start care faster than ever before. The center’s four core positions, Katie Munger-Ollie Harris Center Director, Jamie Piercy-Referral Coordinator, Sejal Rathod-Peer Support Specialist, and Mike Jones-Transportation Specialist, work tirelessly to coordinate access and services with community organizations and between providers at the center.

“The idea is to get people the appropriate help as soon as possible,” said Jamie Piercy, Referral Coordinator for the center. “When people go to the emergency room, a primary care provider, or a shelter for behavioral health problems, they may not get appropriate help because these places aren’t really prepared to deal with mental health emergencies and may not know who we are and how we can help.”

To combat this barrier to care, Jamie and staff began educating professionals about the presence and capabilities of the Ollie Harris Center. Their continuous education and collaboration with emergency room personnel, doctors, nurses, primary care providers, hospital administration and other health care providers is leading to a steady increase in the number of people receiving referrals and new services.

Ollie Harris Behavioral Health Center’s grand opening was May 19, 2016. The center is in the Senator J. Ollie Harris Behavioral Health Wing of the Cleveland County Public Health Center at 200 South Post Road, Shelby, NC.

June 2016 – April 2017 = 1,554 walk-ins for treatment. Of these:

  • 169 said they would not have received services if Ollie Harris Behavioral Health was not around.
  • 62 said they would have weeks or months before getting services
  • 124 would have gone to the emergency room and waited to be referred for mental health services (this process can take days and does not provide behavioral health treatment)

Ollie Harris peer support specialists make access even easier by providing emergency transportation to the center. This is a crucial element in handling crisis or urgent situations. The center even provided cab service for a citizen in desperate need of immediate help.

As a final attempt to get people into vital treatment, center staff reach out to those who have been referred by another agency. They explain why they are calling, the importance of getting into services, and what to expect when they visit the center for the first time.

Shared triage—the process of gathering and sharing information—is another unique aspect improving access to care and timely treatment at the center. Everyone coming to the center for the first time starts with Jamie. She has the visitor fill out the center’s patient information form and a consent form to share information among all the providers at the center. Based on answers to the core questions about signs and symptoms combined with information from referring professionals, Jamie can schedule a comprehensive clinical assessment with the most appropriate provider right away. Sometimes assessments can be done within an hour or two.

The shared triage process also establishes a patient profile shared by the Ollie Harris providers— Alexander Youth Network, Monarch, Phoenix Counseling Center, and Support Incorporated. This means general demographic information, triage form information, and results of the clinical assessment are already in the system. If the clinical assessment shows the person should see a second provider for another issue, the person will not have to go through the process again. This increases the amount of time and resources the visitor and staff can use to begin treatment.

About the Behavioral Health Centers

You and your loved ones should have a place to go where you know you can get immediate help if you are struggling with mental illness, with alcohol and drug use, or with issues related to a disability. Your health and safety risks are much lower when you can speak to someone about your troubles and options available to you when you need it the most.

This is why Partners, the providers we work with, and local and state officials supporting us work hard to bring you these safe places. Currently, you have access to behavioral health centers operating in Burke, Cleveland, and Lincoln counties. You will be able to access centers in Gaston and Iredell counties soon. But you don’t need to wait for a center to open in your area. We currently have walk-in locations available in all eight counties we serve.

You can see the entire list of locations on our website at www.partnersbhm.org/find-help-walk-in, or you can call Partners at
1-888-235-HOPE (4673) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Surviving Through Hope: A Message of Recovery

In her own words, Elisa Bryant shares her story of recovery in this edition of Behavioral Health Focus.
Read more by clicking on the link at the end of this article.

Hello Fellow Peers,

First, I want to encourage all those willing to share their story to be honest, because truth illustrates the many steps you took to get to where you stand now.  This is your journey and it is all about you; however, it will bless others.

My name is Elisa and I am pleased to share with you the story of my journey. This journey began seven years ago, from a span of twenty-seven years of Alcohol and Drug Abuse.  A recovery from the darkest place to live into the brightest existence imaginable, both discovered inside of me.

I was born in a well-provided Christian family home, yet, made those unwise teenager life-altering decisions that became a pattern into my adult life.  That’s the thing about bad decisions, they produce bad outcomes upon one another.  Then, not understanding that bad things or disappointments happen in life, but to know what makes the difference in those situations is how you handle them.

In high school is where I drunk my first alcoholic beverage and started smoking cigarettes, no surprise right.  With facts of not having friends and non-directional as far as life’s purpose, alcohol became the deciding factor.   Alcohol heightens emotions of self-pity and worthlessness.  Having no friends must have meant something must be wrong with me, my looks, attitude, speech, or the fact that I was fat and couldn’t play sports.  Whatever it was, it was my fault and I needed to change.

The beautiful Elisa Bryant

I started going out to clubs and hitting spots where the crowd hung out.  The fun, they looked like they were having was what I wanted. That lifestyle of drinking beer and liquor continued for many years. In the meantime, many heartbreaks happened (in love with someone that didn’t love me; I was 23 when my mother died and my father remarried a year later; I married a man that I didn’t love and so on) that fed my desire and dependency of alcohol.  You would think living such a downward spiral of failures would cause me to realize, this way of life wasn’t it.  Instead, came the introduction of cocaine.  A drug that took my hurt away, in fact, it took all my feelings away.  I did not care about myself nor anybody or anything else…except…the results of what cocaine gave me…NO Feelings.  I hated tho!  I hated life, myself, my family, church folks and all.  How could they be happy and I’m in the shape I’m in.  Crazy right!!!”

In 2010, when the destructive acts rendered to my body for so many years caught up, it began to shut down.  My kidneys had collapsed which meant dialysis, needed 3 blood transfusions, ulcer, and phenomena sent me to the hospital.  Nevertheless, it was the best place I could have been to receive healing.

Confronted, I couldn’t drown away pain or my failures anymore, I had to face what I had done to myself (bedridden).  For years, I functioned through cocaine and liquor. They became who I was as a person. Well, admitted at the hospital for 45 days and that was longer than I expected to be there, because my intentions were to die there.  However, Hope began when I realized it was the third day in the hospital without supplying my body with drugs nor liquor, and I was surviving.  Oh, that moment of realization, nothing can beat it!

By no means did I walk this journey alone.  My initial supporter was Dr. Robert Qualheim and the staff at Watauga Medical Center, who treated me like I was important as anyone else and not an addict or alcoholic. My family was right there surrounding me with love and acceptance; the ones I had turned my back on.  And the one that presented all these to me, the spirit of forgiveness and love of Jesus Christ opened the door to life unto me.  From this, I began walking the road of restoration, and today (2017) yet moving forward.  I received salvation that brought about forgiveness, love, and helping others find their way and this is my walk of today.  It all began with hope that change can happen even at this point of my life.  The point where I thought it was the end, instead it became the beginning of living.

With anticipation and fear, I came home from the hospital.  I saw the world for the first time from a view I had not seen in over 18 years, and I’ll even say, never.  Many years had passed, which meant time had not waited for me (age wise).  Yet, I felt as the age of when I went under and lost my identity.  My soul had received healing, but my body needed to process the change that had taken place. Of course, it took almost a year to gather my strength physically and mentally, and I am yet building to strengthen myself.  It is a daily thing we must do.  I began taking walks and exercise to build my strength.  As for my mind, the process of changing how I felt about life was absolutely breath-taking. Nothing and no one could stop me, not even myself, because if it was possible to overcome the last 18 years of addiction, worthlessness, hopelessness, and hatred, I can do anything. The proof was there. God allowed me to overcome death at that time.

Let’s jump to the educational success through the years.  I did graduate high school and completed a certificate in accounting, however, picking up a book, reading it, and learning– that all stopped in 1991.  Yes, 18 years my mind was deprived of knowledge.  While the world, society keep moving forward, I was in a frozen state mentally.  Nevertheless, in 2010, Glory given to God, I was given a new lease on life.  The first book I picked up to read after many years was the Holy Bible. Forever changed, cleansed from the desire of drugs and alcohol and dialysis-free.  I owe it all to the love and forgiveness of Christ, who started me on my way to restoration.

Needlessly to say, I knew nothing about computers. I enrolled in Career Readiness classes at Surry Community College and earned a silver certificate and continued to get a BS in Human Services and Criminal Justice.  In my desire to help others, once again I became involved with Partners Behavioral Health as a Consumer Family Advisory Committee (CFAC) member, and became a Certified Peer Supporter on my own.

Elisa Bryant's Gardner Webb University Graduation

Elisa Bryant, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Services and Criminal Justice at Gardner-Webb University, offered the invocation and reading of scripture at spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 13, in Paul Porter Arena inside the Lutz-Yelton Convocation Center on the Gardner-Webb campus.

I have participated in many trainings that were beneficial in helping me and how to apply myself in the secular world towards helping others.  First Aide Mental Health and Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) are great trainings I found successful because they direct you to focus on the intra matters of the whole person.

Without a doubt, when I look back over the many testimonies/recovery journals I write, I pay attention to all the spots I see were opportunities to change was there, but I didn’t, sometimes couldn’t take them.  My journey isn’t for judgement from others, because we have our own.  Fear and all the negativity in this world will hinder the good from coming through but it is there, just believe and receive it—have Hope, its waiting for us all!

Thank you for reading and sharing my journey with me.  Now, share your journey with others.

Member Navigator

Transportation Options

Transportation is the most common reason people don’t get the help they need. You have some options if you can’t get yourself to an appointment. If you receive Medicaid coverage, your transportation may be covered if you use a Medicaid Transportation Service.

If you do not have Medicaid coverage, you can request to have your initial appointment in your home if transportation is an issue. Then you and provider can plan for transportation to future appointments. You can often use a Medicaid Transportation Service, but you may have to pay a fee. Contact one of the companies listed below to find out about costs. Also, be sure to call at least one week in advance to arrange a ride.

NC Department of Health and Human Services has a county-by-county list of possible transportation options here and here.
For more information, speak to your care coordinator or call 1-888-235-HOPE (4673).

The companies listed below offer transportation services in the Partners’ service area:

  • Carolina Specialty Transport – Serving Gaston, Lincoln, and Cleveland Counties – 704-865-5618
  • Gaston County Access – Serving Gaston County – 704-866-3206
  • Greenway Transportation – Serving Burke, Catawba Counties – 828-464-9444
  • Iredell County Area – Iredell County – 704-873-9393
  • Transportation Association of Cleveland County – Serving Cleveland County – 704-482-2311
  • Transportation Lincoln County – Serving Lincoln County – 704-736-2038
  • Yadkin Valley Public Transportation
    • Serving Surry County – 336-786-6155
    • Serving Yadkin County – 336-679-2071

In the Community 

NC Innovations Waiver Listening Sessions

The NC Division of Medical Assistance and the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services are holding listening sessions on the NC Innovations Waiver as they prepare to renew the Waiver.

June 8, 2017
5:30‐7:30 p.m.

Trillium Health Resources
165 Center Street
Jacksonville, NC

June 13, 2017
5:30‐7:30 p.m.

Partners Behavioral Health
901 S. New Hope Road
Gastonia, NC

The goals of the listening sessions are to provide an overview of the Innovations Waiver, let you know what just happened, let you know what’s coming up, and get feedback. For additional information, please contact IDDListeningSessions@dhhs.nc.gov or 919-855-4968.

The Arc’s 28th Annual Celebrity Baseball Game

Join The Arc for a night at the ballpark to celebrate with community leaders, special guests, and the Grizzlies. This interactive ball game, filled with lots of family fun, is on Saturday, June 17 from 2:30-5:30 p.m. at Sims Legion Park. The Grizzlies full concession menu and Tony’s Ice Cream will be available. Admission is free. You are encouraged to attend as a player, sponsor, or spectator. For more information, contact 704-861-1036 or ballgame@gastoncountyarc.org. Or visit one of the links below.

Visit the Event Page for Game Day details
2017 Arc Celebrity Ballgame Event Page

Register to Play or Be a Game Day Sponsor
Register to Play or Sign up as a Sponsor

ALL Athletes with Special Needs Play for FREE but Must Register
Special Needs Athletes Registration Form

QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Lake Norman Iredell-NC is sponsoring QPR training on Thursday, June 22, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Iredell County Library, 201 N Tradd Street, Statesville, NC. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. Contact Lisa Johnson at ljohnson@ covechurch.org or 704-881-4492; or Mike Hoffman at maccabees1@roadrunner.com or 843-245-6189.

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID TRAINING

Adult Mental Health First Aid

You are more likely to encounter someone in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. Learn how to help a friend, family member, coworker or neighbor in need. Get trained in Mental Health First Aid for free. Sometimes first aid isn’t a bandage, or CPR, or calling 911. Sometimes, first aid is YOU. The adult Mental Health First Aid course is appropriate for anyone 18 years and older who wants to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, psychosis, and addictions.

Friday, June 30, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at First Plaza Building, First Floor Conference Room, 1985 Tate Boulevard SE, Hickory, NC. Please Register Online. For more information, contact Michael Smith at msmith@partnersbhm.org or 828-325-4693.

Behavioral Health Focus is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month and is intended to be a source of information for those working or interacting with behavioral health care in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry and Yadkin Counties. If you would like to contribute, contact Jeff Brucato at 704-884-2564 or jbrucato@partnersbhm.org. Items should be submitted by Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the next week’s issue.

Volume 2 – Issue 23
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