Date of Award

Spring 2019

Project Type

Clinical Doctorate

College or School




Program or Major

Doctorate of Nursing Practice

Degree Name


First Advisor

Joanne Samuels

Second Advisor

Donald Miller

Third Advisor

Karen Peugh


Background: Mental health and substance use disorders seldom occur in isolation. They frequently accompany each other, as well as a substantial number of chronic general medical illnesses. Consequently, mental health conditions, substance-use disorders, and general health conditions are frequently co-occurring, and coordination of all of these types of health care is essential to improved health outcomes (Institute of Medicine, 2006). The U.S. system of healthcare is failing to identify, engage, and effectively treat people who are suffering from behavioral health conditions (Blanco, Coye, Knickman, Krishnan, Krystal, Pincus, Rauch, Simon, Vitiello, 2016). Because of poor coordination and lack of engagement, people often experience disrupted care and an over-reliance on emergency department and hospital care. At Lowell Community Health Center where this project takes place persons with a primary behavioral health diagnosis contribute to the highest utilization of emergency and inpatient hospital services. In July of 2018, Lowell CHC collaborated with Lowell House, Inc. to form a care coordination program to outreach and engage individuals identified as high utilizers of inpatient and emergency hospital services.

Aim: The aim of this project is to describe the attributes of the population of patients who successfully engaged into care for the first six months of this new program, with recommendations for improvement to inform future program design.

Method: The population of patients who successfully engaged in care in the first 6 months of the program described by independent variables consisting of age, gender, race, and preferred language. Dependent variable consisting of type of outreach. Data was evaluated to determine attributes of patients who successfully engaged in care and if correlations exist between variables and successful engagement.

Results: The first six months of the program implementation demonstrated successful engagement and activation of 17.5% of patients. The average patient is described as low-income, 50-64 years of age, non-English speaking female with dual-diagnosis residing in the greater Lowell area. Themes regarding successful outreach type included telephonic and face-to-face being the most successful method of engagement. Although successful engagement was noted, longer-term efforts and analysis should focus on successful outreach and engagement strategies, emergency room utilization, treatment adherence and service adherence.

Conclusions: The findings of this project indicate that having a team-based, multidisciplinary and multi-cultural approach to care coordination has led to successful engagement of 186 individuals within the first 6 months of this new program.