National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
VHA Community Partnership Challenge
This Colorado partnership, a VHA National Community Partnership Challenge winner, developed community models of Veteran suicide prevention
By Dr. Tracy L. Weistreich, Nurse Executive, VHA National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships
A multi-disciplinary panel of judges within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) has selected the VA Patient Safety Center of Inquiry – Suicide Prevention Collaborative (PSCI-SPC) as one of the three winners of the 2021 VHA National Community Partnership Challenge (CPC). PSCI-SPC was awarded for its work educating community partners about suicide prevention in Colorado.
One housing provider for Veterans experiencing homelessness in Colorado worked with PSCI-SPC to develop mental health screenings and referrals for Veterans to community social workers and health care providers.
A Veteran working with counselors via PSCI-SPC's psychotherapy program shared that: “I told one of the counselors, just in this week, I had been feeling like my only path to freedom was to die. Now, I think, well maybe I don’t have to die to have freedom, maybe I can work through some of this stuff and have some of it out of my backpack and take one thing out at a time. I’m pretty encouraged by that.”
PSCI-SPC is a national center funded by the VA National Center for Patient Safety to research ways to reduce Veteran suicide rates, particularly among those receiving care through VHA. PSCI-SPC was recognized this year for two partnerships:
- Learning collaborative program: PSCI-SPC helped partner organizations (such as housing providers, fire and police departments, and libraries) build their own Veteran suicide prevention programs by sharing evidence-based and best practices for preventing Veteran suicides.
- Transit: a psychotherapy program for Veterans who are ineligible for VA services or whose eligibility status is unknown. PSCI-SPC provides brief psychotherapy service to these patients, followed by a crisis response plan, and then case management from a licensed clinical social worker to ensure the Veteran receives a community mental health placement. The coordinator can also refer the Veteran to other community partners to help with access to housing, food, and legal services.
A Colorado Veteran who used the Transit program told PSCI-SPC: “I didn’t have my hopes set on help, so when I hit a dead end, I expected it. But then you called me. Your help and getting me linked into options into the community,” the Veteran added, “it felt like the whole world of help opened to me. I’ve never felt that way before.”
"This program saved my life,” another Transit-user told PSCI-SPC.
“The end goal of the work is to saves lives,” said PSCI-SPC Director Dr. Bryann DeBeer, who shared that PSCI-SPC was “overjoyed” at their impact. “In the future, we will apply these models to VA sponsored community care.”
“Both projects are important to Veterans as they increase access to mental health and suicide prevention care for Veterans who are at risk for suicide and may not be eligible for VA services,” said DeBeer.
The CPC is an annual award recognizing outstanding partnerships that help Veterans and their communities. The challenge is managed by the VHA’s National Center for Healthcare Advancement and Partnerships (HAP), which facilitates partnerships advancing the health and well-being of Veterans. This year’s CPC theme was “Adaptability in a Changing World” with a focus on partnerships that served diverse Veteran populations.
For more information on HAP’s partnership work and the CPC, please visit: va.gov/healthpartnerships.
Posted September 14, 2021