This month, Behavioral Healthcare talked to four behavioral health accrediting organizations, two of which — The Joint Commission and CARF — named new executive directors — Michael Johnson and Tracy Griffin Collander — to head their behavioral health accreditation programs just this year. They, together with Brett Welch of ACHC and Patricia Barrett of NCQA, shared their views about health reform and its impact on accreditation-related products and offerings.
Tracy Griffin Collander joined The Joint Commission as executive director of the Behavioral Health Care Accreditation Program on August 5. Five days later, she discussed her background and plans with Behavioral Healthcare. She is responsible for product development, strategic planning, and other operations in behavioral health at the Joint Commission, where she is also liaison to national behavioral health professional and provider organizations.
Griffin Collander, a social worker, has more than 21 years experience, both as a clinician and as executive director, having worked in residential, day treatment, therapeutic day schools, foster care, in-home, and outpatient treatment programs. Immediately prior to joining The Joint Commission, Griffin Collander was executive director of Gateway Foundation’s residential and outpatient programs in Aurora, Illinois.
She got involved in the field through an interest in helping children and families in crisis. Soon thereafter, she began working on programs for children in foster care. These programs focused on managing services to children and families seeking reunification, and on preventing children from being placed into restrictive care settings, including the group home she worked in at the time.
“One of the things I loved about developing programs was identifying gaps of treatment and services that were in the community,” she says. “This is my social work background.” Yet she says, “I’ve always been a systems person, too.” While working with children and families toward success, she also helped parents navigate the child welfare system. In time, she became an advocate for those she served.
Such values are incorporated in Joint Commission standards, which establish a framework for organizations to deliver safe and quality treatment, says Griffin Collander. “Having been a provider for both an accredited and a non-accredited organization, I can tell you that working for the accredited organization gave me peace of mind as an executive director,” she says. “I felt I had the full scope of systems in place. I also felt that accreditation helped us to continuously improve the quality of the care that we offered. “
Healthcare reform also encourages continuous improvement, she notes. “I believe that in terms of healthcare reform, there will be regulatory standards that will improve practice and access to care,” she says, adding that standards will continue to evolve.
There are special regulatory concerns in the behavioral health field, where patients may not cooperate with care or may engage in self-harm or a desire to harm others. But providers are aware of this, and Joint Commission standards account for it as well, says Griffin Collander. “People in the behavioral health field have an understanding of and a compassion for people with these challenges,” she says. “Because they have clinical training for this, they are able to assess and look at factors that will keep a person safe and provide support,” she says. “The standards that we have in place help make sure that we are doing diligence when organizations are helping individuals navigate through their various needs, whether in mental health or other areas.”
“Our standards embed recovery concepts throughout screening, assessment, planning and treatment,” says Griffin Collander. “The standards require that organizations understand the consumer’s needs, strengths, goals and preferences for treatment. They put the consumer in charge of his or her care, and are an effective way of engaging and motivating a person in the care, treatment, and services that he or she receives.”
In January, The Joint Commission will launch a new Behavioral Health Home Certification. The Joint Commission, together with providers, has reached out to all 50 state Medicaid authorities, as well as managed care organizations, to call attention to this new capability. “We would be happy to work with providers on reaching out to their states on this issue,” Griffin Collander says.
Part 3 coming soon!