Working Together: Integrated Care Benefits Patients
Third in a series profiling Health Center physicians and their practices in Lynn.
Dr. Clotyl Williams has a passion for family medicine. “I like to get to know my patients,” she says. “As a family doctor I can take care of people at all stages of life. I get to know two or even three generations in one family. If there is a family medical issue, it is easier to spot and treat when you know the whole story.”
Dr. Williams completed her residency in Family Medicine at Mt Sinai hospital of Chicago. She specializes in treating patients and families from a broad range of cultural backgrounds. A native of the Caribbean Island of Dominica, she is fluent in Spanish and French Creole. She is especially interested in helping people with chronic diseases manage their conditions, and this is what drew her to the Health Center.
“One of the things I most appreciate about the health center is working on an integrated care team that includes full time behavioral health specialists,” she says. “It is very common for patients with chronic diseases to also have psychosocial issues that impact their ability to care for themselves properly. Depression, substance abuse, and anxiety are among the common issues that make it difficult for patients to function. In Chicago, my patients would sometimes have to wait weeks to see someone. Here, they can be introduced to a behavioral health provider in minutes.”
Over the past two years Lynn Community Health Center has been working to deepen its commitment to the integration of medical and behavioral health care. Primary care teams have been reorganized into new teams that include behavioral health providers who collaborate and share the care of patients’ physical and mental health needs. “Our premise is that primary care is more than the control or absence of physical illness, and that behavioral health is more than the control or absence of mental illness or substance abuse,” says Dr. Mark Alexakos, the health center’s Chief Behavioral Health Officer. “The goal of our integrated care program is to promote and support optimal mental and physical functioning in all patients.”
“This approach truly works,” says Dr. Williams. She tells the story of a man who came to her last fall with very high blood pressure. During her visit with him she discovered that his wife had died two years ago, and that his grief was overwhelming. “I invited a therapist to come in and meet him during our visit,” she said. “He was able to see us together, and agreed to meet with her the next week. She and I sit next to each other in shared office space, so we can check in about him regularly. He knows we both care for him, and feels more at home. He is improving on all fronts now.”