Our Community First: Connell O’Brien, RCPA

Connell O’Brien, RCPA

As Director of the Children’s Department at Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association (RCPA), Connell O’Brien has dedicated his life’s work to improving and advancing integrated, whole person care for children. During his time spent working to improve care, Connell saw time and time again the recurring barriers inhibiting access to quality health care. When his friend and fellow NavWell Council member, Susan Blue, asked him to be a part of the NavWell initiative, he did not hesitate to jump on board.

“My work before and at RCPA has exposed me daily to the professional, regulatory funding and training silos that have been created over many years in the children’s services fields. While these silos (health, mental health, education, child welfare, etc.) are all clearly dedicated to the well-being of children, the development of each of these fields, and especially the regulations, funding streams, training and even vocabulary, have increasingly become barriers to good, efficient and effective services to children and a frustration to families and professionals,” Connell explains.

Research shows that early screening, identification, and intervention for children with developmental, pediatric, and mental health care needs result in the best outcomes. In addition, when care is provided in a collaborative and coordinated system of patient information and patient care, the results are positive. LOHF, Connell and the other members of the NavWell Advisory Council have recognized this recurring trend. NavWell works to change the approach to health care by improving communication, planning, collaboration, and satisfaction between healthcare providers and caregivers in a child’s ecosystem.

“The concepts that drive NavWell (and several other initiatives) are a recognition of (some of) the barriers and frustrations and represent a local effort to dissolve some barriers and build collaborative relationships and partnerships among and between professional groups (health, mental health, education) on behalf of the children in Lancaster County,” Connell explains.

This initiative is one of several projects around the state and the nation working to facilitate and incentivize collaborative and coordinated health care communication, planning and service for children with health care and mental health care needs. LOHF is committed to developing an approaches and the tools necessary to make this happen. As a part of the collaboration NavWell facilitates, primary care providers will become increasingly aware of the need for screening, have more access to information, consultation and treatment plans to address mental health care needs, in addition to a multitude of other benefits.

Another key element of the NavWell project is its social impact. NavWell has already begun to shape the discussion of childhood mental health care needs and reduce stigma by bringing key community leaders, health and health care providers together to design and plan for utilizing NavWell as a potential system for communication and collaboration in whole person health care.

NavWell aims to create change.

To learn more about the NavWell initiative, please visit lohf.org/navwell.