Healthcare is much more than just “a shot of penicillin,” says Jim Baer, a longtime Palo Alto developer and PAMF patient and donor. “We really want to be cared for more than just physically. We want our minds and spirits to be cared for as well.”
Baer says his primary care physician, Steven R. Lane, M.D., did just that when Baer was recovering from a bicycle accident that left him with a traumatic brain injury (TBI). “I was training for a 100 mile bike race around Lake Tahoe,” says Baer. He doesn’t remember the accident, but he speculates that he over-gripped the brakes while going downhill, sending the back wheel up and over his head. A Good Samaritan found him on the side of the road and called for help. After several months in the hospital, Baer returned to Palo Alto to continue his recovery.
“Full recovery from a TBI involves everything,” says Baer. “My primary care doctor was very important.” In addition to coordinating several aspects of his recovery, he says, “Dr. Lane gave me his cell phone number. He called me on several weekends, to ask if I was OK. That kind of caring is extraordinary. That’s him and his sense of responsibility.”
In appreciation for the care he has received at PAMF, Baer recently made a donation to the Adolescent Behavioral Health (ABH) Program. The ABH program, led by psychiatrist Daniel Becker, M.D., and internist and pediatrician Meg Durbin, M.D., is a five-year pilot program that aims to make it easier for teenagers who are PAMF patients to get help for behavioral health problems such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders and bipolar disorder.
Twenty percent of teenagers deal with these issues, but accessing behavioral healthcare can be very difficult, due to issues such as stigma, insurance complexities and the lack of referrals to behavioral health providers. The ABH program is training primary care doctors to more effectively identify and treat their teenage patients for these issues, as well as refer them to other providers when appropriate.
The ABH program also includes “navigation services,” behavioral health professionals who will help doctors and their patients access behavioral health specialists. Additionally, behavioral healthcare managers will monitor the treatment progress of those who seek help.
“Kids today are under a lot of pressure, but they don’t realize when they are having a problem beyond normal anxiety or sadness,” says Baer. “Families are not skilled in identifying it either. We’ve got to improve the knowledge and interactions of our primary care providers. It’s very healing to have somebody who cares.”