Street Talk

Street Talk: Let’s talk depression, because no one else does

Street cred.

December 20, 2013
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This time of year is filled with frolicking family fun, gobs of gift-giving, gracious good cheer and the usual holiday hoo-ha for everyone, right?

Not really. Ask any mental health professional and they will tell you it’s also a dangerous time for people who suffer from depression and whose version of the holidays isn’t nearly so rosy and bright.

But maybe there’s more than just a lump of coal in those stockings.

Health care providers in Grand Rapids and Muskegon are piloting an enhanced depression care management program in primary care practices that is improving care for patients. It is a team-based model that helps patients overcome depression faster and addresses the shortage of psychiatrists in the region. Blue Cross Blue Shield, Blue Care Network and Priority Health back the program with funding and other support.

This group of providers began participating in the enhanced depression care management program in 2012. To date, more than 40 percent of patients in the program experienced significant improvement in their symptoms while nearly one in five shows no sign of depression at all.

What’s the secret? It’s the people connection. Duh.

“Patients respond very well to having a care manager and psychiatrist support them,” said Greg Gadbois, a Spectrum Health physician who has implemented the model in his practice. “Patients do much better when we can spend more time with them. And having a psychiatrist assist the practice helps patients address side effects and other challenges.”

According to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010, an estimated 10 percent of U.S. adults have some type of depression. However, treatment is often ineffective. According to a Minnesota study of 184 primary care and behavioral health clinics conducted by the MN Community Measurement — the state’s public reporting agency — less than 6 percent of patients with clinical depression have symptom remission within six months of treatment.

“Those of us who treat patients day in and day out recognize the need to address conditions like depression more effectively if we’re going to improve the care of complex and chronic medical problems,” said David VanWinkle, medical director of Lakeshore Health Network in Muskegon. VanWinkle’s practice has also implemented the depression care model. “It’s pretty obvious from the short time we’ve been engaging patients in this model that depressed patients require more assistance and oversight to help them reach their goals.”

The care model is designed to supplement the work of physicians by doing more in-depth patient assessments and systematically reviewing patients who are not improving. Care managers follow up with patients by phone and in person between physician visits.

“In today’s busy primary care practices, it is unrealistic to expect a physician to address complex behavioral and medical problems in a 15- or 20-minute visit,” said Tom Ruane, a medical director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Swing dance

How much would you pay NOT to have to stand up in front of a crowd?

That’s the idea behind a new fundraising effort going on at Rotary Club of Grand Rapids. It involves Rotary’s traditional “A Swingin’ New Year’s Eve” concert with Grand Rapids Symphony.

An auction of a custom-designed baton produced by Nick Kroeze, president of Kuyper College, was scheduled for last week’s Rotary meeting. However, the session was altered from the original idea to a “community fundraising” effort, in which the board decided to draft someone to be the recipient of the baton and do the honors of conducting the symphony during “In the Mood” at the New Year’s Eve concert.

So instead of an auction in which the winner got a nice handcrafted baton AND had to lead the orchestra for a song, the premise was that Rotarians would spend more to send a “friend” onstage (and ostensibly avoid the task themselves).

Business Journal Publisher (and a Rotarian in good standing) John Zwarensteyn said that proved to be the case.

“They raised nearly $4,000 for the baton idea,” Zwarensteyn said. “Chuck Caldwell, local orthodontist and a past Rotary president, did not know prior to the meeting that he had been ‘drafted’ by the Rotary board to be the go-to person as the designated Rotarian to receive the baton and then lead the symphony.”

Rotary charities benefit at-risk students and seniors. According to Rotary’s Dawn Smith, Caldwell now has the opportunity to buy his way out of the guest conductor’s role.

“It was a different take on the old auction idea, and the change probably raised 10 times the amount that would typically be raised for an auction of this type,” Zwarensteyn said.

Picker pickin’

American History Channel’s “American Pickers” star Danielle Colby is coming to the Grand Rapids Antiques Market and will host an American Pickers Q&A at 1 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 5.

Colby will be on site and displaying vintage items from her store — 4 Miles 2 Memphis — both Saturday and Sunday.

Nearly 150 antique and vintage dealers are expected to attend.

The session will provide an opportunity for fans to get a behind-the-scenes look at the show.

The antiques show at DeVos Place is now in its eighth year, and Melissa Sands of Vintage Promotions LLC, which produces the show, said Colby is the perfect fit for an event that keeps growing.

“The Grand Rapids Antiques Market is known for being a different kind of show,” Sands said. “It’s energetic, and Danielle’s presence supports the vibe.

“It’s a fun show that’s all about the spirit found on ‘American Pickers.’”

The 2014 Grand Rapids Antiques Market will be held in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Old House Expo, Jan. 4-5, at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. Hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.

In addition to the Grand Rapids event, Vintage Promotions also operates Vintage Garage Chicago, the Dallas Vintage Clothing and Jewelry Show, and Texas Art Collector Show, among others.

Urban smarts

Davenport University’s unusual College of Urban Education will have an unusual audience Jan. 9 when up to 20 state legislators are scheduled to visit campus as part of a joint Senate and House committee hearing of the state legislature.

The event is taking place on Davenport’s W.A. Lettinga campus.

The hearing will feature Davenport President Rick Pappas and Andre Perry, founding dean of Davenport’s College of Urban Education, who will provide testimony about the university’s plans to transform how teachers are prepared for service in urban K-12 school districts.

The first cohort of the school’s Master of Urban Education program is scheduled to begin classes next spring.

Davenport officials expect between 15 and 20 legislators to attend the event, representing Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on higher education and both chambers’ education standing committees.

Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker, R-Lawton, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, and Rep. Al Pscholka, R-Stevensville, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education, will provide opening remarks at the event. This session is open to the public and an opportunity for public comment will be provided.

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