BHN In the Media: Better Health

This article was recently featured in the Republican's Better Health section.

Managing Needs of Seniors in a Pandemic
Lauren Favorite, MSW, LICSW and Adam Baskin DNP, FNP-C

Over the past eight months, the COVID-19 pandemic has altered all facets of life, resulting in disruptions to “normal” functioning. As healthcare providers, we have adjusted to meet the needs of our patient populations, especially our senior citizens.  

According to Adam Baskin, a Nurse Practitioner at Baystate Mason Square Community Health Center, many of his senior patients are anxious about leaving their homes to access in-person healthcare due to their increased risk of complications from COVID-19. The need for telehealth visits has grown, but providers are limited to what they can review in a virtual setting. While opportunities exist to improve how comprehensive telehealth visits can be - by providing durable medical equipment to self-monitor at home or through other methods - some conditions require a level of oversight that can only be provided onsite.

As a result, senior patients with chronic health conditions may find themselves going to the clinic more frequently than they are comfortable. In this case, providers offer support and guidance around the importance of coming in for a face-to-face exam, provide health literacy around safe guidelines regarding COVID-19, and address acute and chronic behavioral health concerns.

Baskin reports that many seniors are expressing an increase in anxiety-related symptoms, perhaps due to a lack of supports. They are feeling cooped up indoors and are missing socialization due to social distancing guidelines, adult health centers functioning at limited capacity, and lack of technology to connect with their support systems.

To address the whole-health needs of his patients, Behavioral Health Network (BHN) has provided Baskin and his colleagues with opportunities to connect their patients to an integrated behavioral health team. Through this service, providers quickly introduce patients to a consultant that will address their behavioral health needs.

Addressing and helping seniors manage depression, anxiety, and stress can reduce impacts to functioning and improve health outcomes, which may also result in better management of medical conditions. This service helps patients feel empowered to leave their homes safely when needed, to access social supports in a meaningful way, and to benefit from therapeutic supports in conjunction with the management of physical health conditions. “Having on-site support from the behavioral health team helps personalize the experience for our senior patients, allowing for a warm handoff between providers and patients to occur, as well as a collaborative and patient-centered treatment plan to be developed,” shared Baskin.

In addition to connecting patients to therapeutic services, behavioral health consultants also address needs around housing stability, food insecurity, and other community and social issues. The result of this cooperative, patient-centered care is an environment where the needs of senior citizens can be fully met. If you or senior in your life is worried about leaving home to receive care, encourage them to contact their provider and inquire about integrated behavioral health services that can help.

Adam Baskin DNP, FNP-C
Adam received his Doctor of Nursing Practice from University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Graduate School of Nursing in 2020, as well as an undergraduate degree in Applied Forensic Science from Mount Ida College in 2011. He works at Mason Square Clinic providing primary care practice for patients across the lifespan.

Lauren Favorite, MSW, LICSW
Lauren is a licensed clinical social worker working for BHN in the Springfield area, with a focus on primary care behavioral health. She received her Master's in Social Work for Boston University in 2016, and currently supports BHN's Integrated Behavioral Health Teams as an Assistant Program Director.