Athol Hospital, Athol, Massachusetts

December 2015
Athol Hospital

In response to the high levels of mental health needs and the challenge of limited resources, Athol Hospital, located in Athol, Massachusetts, partnered with the Athol-Royalston Regional School District (ARRSD), the Northeast Telehealth Resource Center (NETRC) and Clinical & Support Options (CSO) to develop a collaborative school-based telepsychiatry model focused on bridging care gaps for children and families residing in the Athol Hospital and ARRSD service area.

Positive Steps to Turnaround:

  • Increased high quality age-appropriate psychiatric consultations and improved medication management
  • Decreased tardiness, absenteeism and drop-out rates, and increased GPAs and school engagement in students
  • Improved mental health services access, timeliness of care, decreased wait times, decreased use of urgent and emergency care, crisis outcomes and Medicaid expenditures

Top Accomplishments:

The Athol School-Based Telepsychiatry program is an excellent example of how innovative approaches can effectively stretch limited resources across rural communities to increase access and improve outcomes. In accepting the award, Rebecca Bialecki, Vice President of Community Health at Heywood Healthcare, Athol Hospital’s parent organization, stated, “The development of the telehealth network has truly strengthened the partnership between our schools and our community mental health."

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,560,000 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.