Located in northeastern Louisiana, the Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NEDHSA) provides integrated care services for people with mental illness, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities. We selected NEDHSA as a partner through our inaugural Health Care Delivery Innovation Competition. In the interview below, Dr. Monteic A. Sizer, NEDHSA’s Executive Director, shares his take on innovation in health care and what it’s like to partner with J-PAL North America.
Tell us about what makes your approach to health care delivery innovative.
Northeast Delta Human Services Authority (NE Delta HSA) works to transform and positively connect individuals, communities and social systems through an innovative approach to health care delivery. This approach is focused on effecting positive change to the behavioral health care services traditionally offered by a governmental agency. We catalyze solutions for one of our nation’s most underserved regions. Our deep engagement through trusted relationships with diverse members of the communities we serve is significantly innovative and helps provide a meaningful connection toward a more fulfilling, connected life for our citizens. Additionally, the partnerships we have built offer greater access to an integrated treatment network from wherever a person enters the health care system, whether their journey begins through our behavioral health clinics or through passionate primary care partners to whom we can refer citizens for problems beyond traditional behavioral health issues.
Many of our mental health and substance abuse clients have never visited a dentist or a primary care physician. We are equally as interested in a client’s body and spirit as in their mental health. Our integrated, collaborative model provides greater accountability and improved responsiveness that differentiates us from other governmental entities.
What do you see as the biggest challenge to health care delivery in your area?
The biggest challenges to health care delivery include longstanding poverty, lack of education, a lack of employment opportunities and high crime within our region. Barriers like basic transportation, too few medical providers, and a lack of inpatient and long-term psychiatric care amplify these challenges. We are also working to improve engagement among traditionally governmental agencies that worked in siloes, another barrier that prevents efficient use of resources. We are dedicated to improving our citizens’ access to behavioral and primary health care and ensure that competent, quality care with excellent customer service is available to them.
How does your work help break the cycle of poverty?
In addition to our work to improve citizens’ access to quality behavioral and primary health care, we are actively working to address and catalyze improvements in regional, social health determinants. We are passionate about positively influencing quality of life factors such as affordable housing, care for people in crisis who have a mental health or substance use issue, improved employment opportunities, a better quality education, and providing faith-based mental health outreach. We believe that addressing these social health determinants will help break the cycle of poverty across longstanding issues of race, class, segregation, religion and stigma. We work to catalyze collaboration and efficiency among governmental agencies, which will also be an important factor in helping reduce poverty and disjointed connections among the services that our regional agencies provide.
Why are you interested in randomized evaluations?
NE Delta HSA understands that a randomized evaluation is an unbiased, objective way to measure programmatic results. We hope to utilize this method to measure how our services are meeting our citizens’ needs and find further improvements for even better health outcomes for our region and our state.
Why did you decide to partner with J-PAL?
We place great value on collaboration and we believe that knowledge-sharing will help build a stronger and healthier population, help improve the effectiveness of our services, help us get the best use of our existing resources, and provide potential replication that can improve peoples’ lives far beyond on our geographic region. We respect that J-PAL is comprised of highly dedicated researchers and professionals who are truly dedicated to poverty reduction supported by scientific evidence. We are thrilled to work with J-PAL and have access to the team’s expertise.