The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

October 14, 2013

Finding their way to better care with COMPASS

Program treats people suffering from chronic, mental illness

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It’s approach is fairly simple.

COMPASS is a team-based method of caring for patients whose chronic conditions are made more complicated by mental illness. COMPASS teams are made up of a primary care provider, a care coordinator, a consulting psychiatrist and the patient. The team is not designed to replace the primary care doctor, but rather complement the doctor’s care and possibly supplement it with additional services.

Care coordinators typically interact with patients weekly. Some of that interaction is in person, some of it may be via phone. The care coordinator checks in with the patient and reviews their treatment plan. Consulting psychiatrists review cases as well, and recommend appointments with behavioral health specialists.

Jean Reynolds, a patient who suffers from apical ballooning (also known as the broken heart syndrome), is one such patient who says frequent visits have helped her immensely.

A depression sufferer most of her life, Reynolds said she also suffers from fibromyalgia. Her apical ballooning intensified after menopause, and after encouragement from her husband, she sought medical attention. Her doctor suggested the COMPASS program. After taking a screening test — patients must have a certain score to qualify for the program — she was admitted.

After being in the program in late spring, she said her life has improved. Her mood is better and she has more energy. Also, the care team examined her medications and make adjustments that resulted in her sleeping better at night.

“It’s made a big difference to have someone to talk to, to work closely with me,” she said. “I know the doctors can’t possibly sit and listen to everyone. Plus, I can tell she cares.”

The “she” in this case is Jennifer Pollitt, a registered nurse who is one of two care coordinators in the COMPASS program.

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