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Rural Health Information Hub

Kansas Department of Health and Environment

  • Project Title: Kansas Connecting Communities (KCC)
  • Grant Period: September 30, 2018 – September 29, 2023
  • Program Representatives Interviewed:
    Kelsee Torrez, Project Director
    Patricia Carrillo, Program Manager
    Shawna Chapman, Principal Investigator
  • Location: Kansas
  • Program Overview: Kansas Connecting Communities (KCC) is a partnership between the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), CKF Addiction Treatment, Wichita State University's Community Engagement Institute, University of Kansas Project ECHO, and University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research with local organizations and health centers. KCC is focused on increasing providers' capacity to screen, assess, treat, and refer perinatal women for depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders. As part of this initiative, KCC developed a Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) Toolkit that includes resources for communities interested in simultaneously implementing both mental health and substance use disorder screenings. The program promotes use of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) to identify risk of maternal depression and anxiety, and the 5 Ps (parents, peers, partner, past, and pregnancy) to identify risk of substance use disorders among pregnant women. KCC staff work directly with medical providers, home visitor staff, and other health and social service providers to implement these screening tools with all pregnant women and new mothers in local communities.

    Participating organizations are encouraged to adopt the HIPAA-compliant Integrated Referral & Intake System (IRIS). IRIS is a web-based referral and communication system designed at the University of Kansas. Community organizations engage in “community conversations” to determine how to set up their system and develop community standards. These standards include adoption of a universal referral form, protocols on staff response time for referrals, and how to share capacity to serve information. Organizations that participate in IRIS communities include healthcare and social service partners who provide home visiting, early childhood programs, food banks, mental health, substance use, and other services.

    Multiple communities in Kansas are using IRIS. Some have used grant dollars to cover the initial startup expenses. KCC also has resources set aside for communities interested in becoming an IRIS community but do not have the funds to support launching IRIS. During the planning phase and in community conversation meetings, representatives from each of the organizational partners develop a sustainability plan. After the initial startup, the annual expense for IRIS is minimal. Sustainability plans have included use of grant funds, an organization that is a single payer source for IRIS, and pooled or blended funding from all organizations within the IRIS community.

    KCC is currently implementing its screening program in three rural counties in Southeast Kansas. KCC hopes their screening protocol will be implemented statewide by the end of their grant funding (2023).

Models represented by this program: