Currance challenges mental-health stereotypes

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Lana-CurranceLana Currance started in the health care field as a nurse — working in critical care, emergency rooms and flight nursing. But six years ago, she discovered a new passion that changed her career completely: behavioral health.

The new CEO at Peak View Behavioral Health, a mental health facility that includes both inpatient and outpatient treatments for children, teenagers, adults and the elderly, Currance started her career as a registered nurse after graduating from Arapahoe Community College. She received a master’s degree in nursing and health care administration from the University of Phoenix.

A Colorado native, Currance has long loved the Springs. She grew up in Seibert, a small rural town alongside Interstate 70 in the eastern part of the state. “That’s where I learned the value of work ethic at an early age,” she said.

Now she’s putting that work ethic to use at Peak View, which opened last fall and has days when every inpatient room is booked — meaning that the staff has to coordinate with other area hospitals and mental-health care providers to get people help they need.

 

Why did you take the position at Peak View?

I took the role of CEO because our values in patient-centered care and the mission of the home office were a match. They have a beautiful facility with caring team members and serve a critical need in the community. Of course, the view of Pikes Peak is always a plus.

 

What are the biggest challenges of working in mental health?

The biggest challenge in this field is helping patients and their families understand what resources are out there so they don’t feel isolated and alone. It’s hard to know when it is time to pick up the phone and who to call. When patients come here for support, we let them know we understand what they are going through is real and that they are in the right place. It is usually not your best day when you come to us, but we are here, and we want to help put your life back on track. Another challenge is explaining to the community how to access our care. People are often surprised to learn you do not need a formal physician referral to have an assessment, and we operate 24/7. We get calls every day from families, physician offices, senior communities and others looking for help for their loved one, resident or patient. Someone is always here to help, and all you need to do is call and talk with our admissions clinicians or walk in.

 

How does Peak View fight the old stereotypes of mental-health care?

Perseverance is critical in this field. One interaction, one event, one patient, one visitor, one family member at a time is an opportunity to break the stereotype. The conversations related to behavioral health are more prevalent today. At Peak View we make sure the patients and families understand the treatment goals and expectations for our programs. Communication is essential. Ambiguity leads to frustrations during an already uncomfortable situation. We have a compassionate team with some of the best psychiatric providers in southern Colorado.

In addition, most people only think of our inpatient program when they think of services. We know not everyone needs this level of care, and we have an entire area of the hospital dedicated to our outpatient programs where participants get the support they need in a group setting. We believe this program option is breaking the stereotype that all people needing help need the highest level of care possible (acute inpatient hospitalization). It also doesn’t hurt that we have a brand-new, state-of-the art hospital, a gym and outdoor courtyards; it really breaks the stereotype for behavioral facilities.

 

What are your plans for the future of the behavioral health hospital?

We will continue to serve Colorado Springs and all of Colorado with compassion and empathy for this population. Continuing to provide quality of care and serve all age ranges from adolescents to geriatrics providing inpatient and outpatient services. Our hospital is completely open now, and we are serving adolescents, adults and seniors. We opened all of the outpatient programs and inpatient units for these population segments slowly, safely and methodically as we grew the team. We continue to see these programs develop and have some thoughts about serving children, but not in the immediate future. We, of course, continue to be a resource for our military families and have many team members who are veterans or dependents themselves. So the plan right now is to keep doing what we’re doing, do it well and then look at possible program expansions.

 

How will the Affordable Care Act change the way you do business?

For the mental-health industry, the ACA is encouraging. People who didn’t have insurance will now have access to it and mental health is included in their new covered benefits. I understand the ACA is much broader and comprehensive in scope and recognize there are many who don’t agree with all of the changes, which is understandable. This particular detail of the ACA will hopefully encourage our community to get the mental-health services they need. We will wait and see what the outcomes are, as healthcare is ever-changing. n CSBJ