When CCC’s Old Town Recovery Center searched for someone to lead its new Integrated Health & Recovery Team (IHART), a patient-centered behavioral health home with primary care integration, Shanako DeVoll was the natural choice. Perhaps it was her passion for CCC’s patient population, her broad and versatile clinical skill set (sharpened by time spent working at several other CCC health programs), and her undeniable leadership qualities. But, maybe, it was also that Shanako was simply born to do this work.
After all, she feels that she’s been a social worker since she was eight-years-old, when she began sticking up for her friends from bullies. The lives of several family members are affected by addiction and mental illness.
“I guess I’ve always been about helping people find their voice and advocating for them, even when I didn’t know that’s what I was doing.”
As the IHART manager, Shanako leads the team through a huddle each morning to talk and strategize about clients’ needs. She provides consultations and oversees the IHART patient population to ensure that each client remains engaged in the program. The work keeps her busy, but it’s her clients – the ones she works with now, as well as the all those she’s worked with before – who keep her motivated.
“I’ve learned so much from our clients. They’re often hilarious and warm and generous. There are pieces of their personality that come out when you get to know them that will make anyone realize, ‘Wow, these people are awesome.’”
Still, Shanako knows all too well the barriers and stigma that her clients face when it comes to attaining a decent quality of life. This is why she is so passionate about IHART, which seeks to bring patients into a model of care that is barrier-free, team-based, data-driven, and client-centered. And while she knows that helping a patient population with such complex needs will not be easy, Shanako maintains a perspective that, like everything else she does, is patient-centered.
“I think about their little steps forward, like coming in unaccompanied to pick up her medications. Knowing our patients helps me understand that everyone’s success looks different.”
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Shanako's story is part of Central City Concern's week-long series to celebrate National Health Center Week by highlighting just a few of the many extraordinary people who make the work of CCC's health centers possible. The week of August 9 through August 15 is a time to recognize the services and contributions of health centers that provide affordable, high quality, cost effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people throughout the United States.
Learn more about CCC and National Health Center Week by reading a post introducing this series from Leslie Tallyn, CCC's Chief Clinical Operations Officer.