(Cummins Behavioral Health Systems President and CEO Amy Mace and Chief Clinical Officer Robb Enlow. Photo by Chris Wonsetler)
Cummins Behavioral Health Systems is on a mission to remove labels for those seeking behavioral health treatment.
“People are not their symptom or their diagnosis,” says Cummins Chief Clinical Officer Robb Enlow. “They are humans who have problems related to a certain challenge or issue. They are not the issue itself.”
Enlow says it’s critical to put the person first, not the symptom, to make treatment more effective.
Cummins Behavioral Health Systems was formed in 1972 as part of the national development of community mental health centers after President Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Act of 1963. This law altered the way in which mental health services were delivered. A growing body of evidence at that time demonstrated that mental illnesses could be treated more effectively in community settings than in traditional psychiatric hospitals.
At that time, getting behavioral health care often meant entering an institution for long-term psychological treatment, says Enlow. Cummins set out to change that, along with the negative perception of systemic institutionalization that went along with it.
Today, the organization employs 400 people and offers comprehensive mental health and addiction treatment through its five outpatient offices in central Indiana.
A Holistic Approach to Treatment
Cummins specializes in holistic, or whole-health-focused, treatment. Staff coordinate services to provide behavioral health treatment as well as care for peoples’ physical health and wellbeing.
“When we talk about holistic care, we’re talking about care for the whole person,” explains Cummins President and CEO Amy Mace. “We know that people with serious mental illness can die up to 25 years sooner than the average general population, so it’s critical that we care for their physical health, too.”
Partnerships with primary care physicians (PCP) allow Cummins to offer convenient, on-site healthcare at its Hendricks County outpatient office. Patients seeking services at Cummins’ behavioral health clinic can be referred right to the PCP located in the same building. They also partner with other community agencies and local landlords to connect people with housing, transportation, and employment resources.
While the organization serves people of all ages, approximately 60% of Cummins’ services are related to children. Cummins staff members work directly in more than 100 schools to identify concerns and react immediately.
“The children in the school probably don’t know if the staff works for Cummins or the school,” Mace says. “We try to really integrate with the school and be part of their team.”
Immediate Need, Immediate Access
In 2020, Cummins created an Open Access program to provide people with immediate access to the services they need.
“When someone calls for their first appointment, the goal is to be able to see them the same day,” she says. “Most places will see a client in need within a week, and while that standard is the norm, we wanted to do better. When the need is ‘now,’ access to care is our chief priority.”
While that creates staffing challenges—an initial assessment can take one to two hours—by incorporating technology to connect people with staff at one of the organization’s five outpatient offices, Open Access is succeeding in providing immediate assessments. And once someone surmounts whatever challenge they faced, they can assist others in the same situation through Cummins’ Peer Recovery Specialist program. This program has grown considerably over the last few years, says Mace. Cummins used federal funding received during the pandemic to hire additional peer recovery staff to expand the program.
Continuing Care During the Pandemic
The pandemic created a spike in demand for behavioral health care, says Mace, so it was important to continue serving people no matter what. “Isolation, depression, and anxiety have all increased. It’s impacted everybody.”
Grants made it possible for Cummins to increase their telehealth capabilities. The organization shifted their Open Access program to a virtual team and brought their groups online. While these moves weren’t easy, Mace says telehealth has made it easier for some patients to receive care.
“I do think telehealth is here to say,” she says. “One way it’s helped us is with access to care. It’s been great for reaching people with transportation or childcare barriers.”
With federal grant funding, Cummins also purchased equipment for their patients and group members to access services, as well as expanded their services to include a 24-hour mobile crisis team.
“We’ve always had 24-hour crisis support, but it was through the telephone,” says Mace. “This funding has allowed us to hire crisis therapists who can actually go into the community.” Right now, the 24-hour mobile crisis team operates solely in Hendricks County, but Cummins plans to bring it to all five of their counties.
A Growing Need
Mace says as demand for Cummins’ services has grown, so has its need for space and equipment, especially during the pandemic. For those needs, the organization turns to Huntington.
“We’re currently going through a building expansion in our Hendricks County office related to one of the federal grants we received,” says Mace. “We’re remodeling our office to expand space for our PCP doctors in that building. We’re partnering with Huntington for that expansion.”
Whether it’s for a large-scale project like the upcoming building expansion or small-scale improvements such as negotiating leases for computers, Huntington has helped guide Cummins on a path that aligns with their mission.
“We have enjoyed a long, very positive relationship with Huntington,” says Mace. “We’ve had several loans with them for building expansions and they’ve helped us be more efficient with everything from how we process credit cards to purchasing. They ask about our growth plans and have always supported our business needs.”
About the OrganizationName: Cummins Behavioral Health Systems
Location: Avon, Indiana
Phone: (888) 714-1927
Mission: To inspire the hope of recovery; to achieve excellence in all aspects of care; and to make the goals and aspirations of those we serve our highest priority.