McLean’s Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) strives to provide customized, person-centered care in the community. Serving people that primarily have chronic mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the program’s goal is to help people live fulfilling, independent lives, keeping them at home and out of the hospital.
“We walk alongside them, recognizing the potential and power within them,” said PACT Medical Director Rahel Bosson, MD. “We help stabilize them clinically so they can transform their lives in ways that are meaningful to them.”
In its fourth year, McLean’s PACT is striving to care for more people from underserved communities who have traditionally not looked to McLean as a treatment option. And philanthropy is helping make this a reality.
The PACT approach is hands-on and practical, helping patients apply coping skills they have learned in therapy to their everyday lives.
Much of the team’s work takes place in the community. For instance, PACT may assist people with activities like managing medications, job hunting, running errands, accessing government benefits, navigating the court system, and handling crises.
The team is focused on the goals of the individual. They also work to include patients in all aspects of decision-making by using concepts of Open Dialogue and Dialogic Consults, which create opportunities for equity in conversation and do not characterize the clinician as an ‘expert’ who holds the answers.
One current patient is recovering from a manic episode and having trouble keeping organized, said Bosson. “We’re helping her with cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning, and organizing so she can feel more comfortable in her living space. We also teach people to recognize the early warning signs of decompensation—when their mental health begins to deteriorate—so they can alert the team and we can provide appropriate support.” The PACT team is available 24/7.
Health Equity to the Forefront
In the past year, PACT has prioritized serving more communities of color, so Bosson has been forging relationships with community health centers, faith organizations, and other institutions that are integrated in people’s lives. “We need to build bridges between McLean and these communities,” she explained. “We believe the best way to do that is to create partnerships with organizations where trust has already been established.”
This new emphasis on reaching underserved patients will not be a one-and-done effort, according to Bosson, but rather the early stages of a transformation that is occurring hospital-wide. “I want to graft our PACT team into the community so people see McLean as a place where they can receive effective care.”