Cincinnati Children's Home leads health care integration efforts

The Children’s Home of Cincinnati is taking the steps needed to become a national leader in health care integration. 

“There are more examples of policies that say we need to do health care integration than there are of actual examples of organizations that have done this and done this well, which tells you The Children’s Home is pretty cutting-edge,” says Barbara Terry, vice president of health care integration at The Children’s Home.

Terry, who says she is passionate about health from a holistic standpoint, has 35 years of experience and recently joined The Children’s Home to help the organization introduce physical health care to its already existing mental health care programs. But she says she is not the only one responsible for the idea of health care integration.

“They’ve certainly been reading the tea leaves and saying, ‘We should think about systems—plural—in this community,’” Terry says. “So you think about mental health, education and human services as systems. We really need to figure out how we integrate systems so that vulnerable children get the care they need—the right care at the right place at the right time—and that becomes huge.” 

For Terry, education and prevention are key. 

“We know that individuals who face challenges in the mental health arena—typically as they get older—they have tremendous chronic health problems,” says Terry, who attributes the issue to a difficulty in navigating an array of disconnected systems. 

To address that issue, Terry envisions a system that recognizes that the mind and body cannot be separated. And while the idea might begin with The Children’s Home, she says the effort needs to span across the community. 

“This isn’t just The Children’s Home—it’s about children and adolescents in our larger community,” Terry says. “They’ve been willing to invest in me and invest in this approach, but my vision would be that we need to work with the community. We need to help share successes with the community so that we can say, ‘How can this spread?’ I don’t want the work to be insular. We have to appreciate community here.” 

Do Good: 

• Get involved by contributing items on The Children's Home's wishlist

• Volunteer with The Children's Home.

• Assist The Children's Home by donating or supporting a classroom.

By Brittany York

Brittany York is a professor of English composition at the University of Cincinnati and a teacher at the Regional Institute of Torah and Secular Studies. She also edits the For Good section of SoapboxMedia. 

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