Dana Lasenby is on a mission to inspire hope, empower people and strengthen communities. She is doing this by being part of Oakland Community Health Network (OCHN), a provider service network that assists approximately 27,000 Oakland County citizens at more than 300 service sites across the county. Dana is a Behavioral Health Care Executive and Limited Licensed Psychologist with more than 25 years of experience in the public and private sectors of the behavioral healthcare industry. Her unique administrative, clinical, managerial, and operational skills and attributes are critical to managing one of the largest public community mental health systems.
Both her personal and professional experiences have led her to the path of ensuring OCHN maintains its vision to be a national leader in the delivery of quality integrated physical and behavioral health supports and services by responding to the community’s needs and empowering people to achieve the lives that are important to them.
Dana is attentive and responsive to the needs of staff, contracted service providers, and, most importantly, the needs of individuals living with intellectual or developmental disabilities, mental health concerns, and substance use disorders, supported by OCHN. She leads with integrity and compassion toward others, ensuring that people connected to OCHN are valued and respected.
Inspiring & Empowering
Dana has implemented strategies to inspire and empower team members to become great leaders by having an open-door policy for all OCHN employees. She has promoted a positive environment where OCHN staff members at all levels feel empowered and comfortable approaching her with innovative ideas, concerns, or requests for opportunities to gain experience within the organization.
A specific example of Dana’s efforts to promote successful future leaders includes establishing staff-led workgroups that help influence policies and procedures. OCHN’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) committee has expanded and improved under Dana’s guidance and participation. The IDEA initiative is essential to OCHN building a diverse team by fostering an inclusive and equitable culture. OCHN is proud to be an equal opportunity employer that embraces, encourages, and celebrates staff differences. This includes (but is not limited to) ability, age, color, family type, gender expression and identity, individual expression, medical conditions, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, and all other diverse and wonderful characteristics.
“Every position I have held along my professional journey, including my current role as Executive Director and CEO at Oakland Community Health Network, has provided me the opportunity to positively increase access to quality behavioral health support for individuals,” says Dana. “I have the privilege of working with and learning from peers and other leaders. Mentors play a pivotal role and share in my achievements and successes based on service to others.”
Improving Mental Health
According to Dana, two fundamental changes are occurring in the behavioral health industry—integrating mental and physical health supports and developing a community-based crisis service system to address the increased need for mental health crisis services and expand behavioral health service options. “Over the last 3 years, the focus has been developing programs that focus on reducing extended wait times and diverting individuals and families with children from going to a hospital emergency department to seek behavioral health crisis services and access non-emergent treatment options,” she elucidates.
OCHN screens and assesses individuals’ social determinants of health (SDOH) to offer a complex case management program that ensures integrated healthcare for individuals with high behavioral and physical healthcare needs. This service is managed by registered nurses responsible for coordinating mental health and physical care for persons with complex care needs. This team also coordinates care by incorporating factors and supports that impact a person’s health, such as housing, education, and employment. Awareness of how an individual’s physical well-being impacts mental health, and vice versa, is essential to ensuring improved overall healthcare outcomes for people.
While crisis care for families and youth has always been a service priority for OCHN, the pandemic increased this need tremendously. Isolation and anxiety resulting from COVID-19 created an environment where more families with youth sought behavioral health support. OCHN responded with two new innovative programs: School Mental Health Navigator (SMHN) program and Youth and Family Care Connection.
The School Mental Health Navigator program works with public, private, and charter schools to increase access to culturally diverse mental health services and student support. School Mental Health Navigators (SMHN) were established in response to an increase in mental health and substance use challenges among youth in Oakland County, in part by issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. A student may contact the SMHN or receive a referral from school social workers/counselors, faculty, family, etc., that will refer the student to appropriate support and services.
OCHN’s Youth and Family Care Connection is a recently launched behavioral health service program for Oakland County youth and families. This one-of-a-kind program includes community access for behavioral health triage and care coordination and a Crisis Care Unit for youth aged 17 and under. Youth can receive services in the unit for up to 72 hours as determined by a mental health screening and based on capacity.
The YFCC and the Crisis Care Unit provide a new level of care for Oakland County youth and fill a gap in services. Anticipated outcomes for these services include:
Expanding behavioral health services for families in crisis.
For the Betterment
“I equate increased productivity with increased service quality for people that are guided by choice,” explains Dana. “The need for widespread access to telehealth and virtual-based behavioral health services during the pandemic revealed a new level of support choices for people that had not been fully explored before.” In most cases, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing engagement and delivery of behavioral health services via technology was the only option.
Today, Dana and her teams continue to navigate service pathways beyond COVID, ensuring that telehealth support remains in place for individuals and families that want it. It is a priority for OCHN and our network of contracted service providers. “The goal is always to achieve the best overall healthcare outcomes for people which includes improving access and pursuing advances in technology,” she adds.
OCHN data collection and analytics are mission-critical to reviewing the experience and outcomes of the people we serve. Real-time monitoring and reporting also ensure programs, services, and supports meet accreditation and performance standards set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).