Ten Questions with Donna Vaughan

Vaughan DonnaTell me a little about yourself – your background and your education. 

I grew up in the southwestern part of Virginia on a 330-acre farm where my Dad farmed in his spare time after working full time for U.S. Gypsum as a mining engineer.  I had three brothers and two sisters….we were the work force on the farm, raising tobacco and strawberries (wonderful combination!).

My undergrad degree was in Mass Communications, and I worked in television for 10 years.  I directed the 6pm and 11 pm news, and I directed a scene in the Mel Gibson movie The River.  I quickly learned that I wanted to do something other than television, so I went back to school at Ashland Theological Seminary for my Masters in Clinical Pastoral Counseling.  Later, I earned a Doctorate of Behavioral Health from Arizona State University.  I worked for almost 10 years in Ohio in private practice and at a community mental health center, where I stumbled upon Dialectical Behavior Therapy and found a passion.  I moved to Indiana in 2006 since both of my older girls were in college here – my oldest daughter was at Grace College and my middle daughter was at Purdue.  I worked at Adult & Child for six years and found another passion: integrated healthcare.

How long have you worked for Aspire? 

I have been at Aspire since March 2012.

What positions have you held with Aspire? 

I was originally hired as the Director of Outpatient Services at Aspire’s Carmel office, and to help implement integrated healthcare for Aspire.  In 2013, I became the Director of Healthcare Integration Services.

Describe your current position, including your responsibilities. 

My responsibilities are still in development as are our integrated healthcare programs.  I am responsible for helping to develop and implement integrated healthcare for Aspire.  We are currently collaborating with two other organizations under a SAMHSA PBHCI Grant, bringing primary care to the SMI population in three of Aspire’s locations.  My role for this initiative is Project Manager, overseeing the day-­‐to-­‐day operations of the primary care clinic at Aspire’s Carmel outpatient facility.  In July, we are scheduled to open a primary care clinic at one of our Anderson locations.  In 2015, we will open the third primary care clinic at our Willowbrook location in Indianapolis.  As we expand to these other locations, I will train staff in preparation for this addition to our continuum of services.  I will also play an active role in keeping teams up to date on integrated healthcare news and other relevant information.

Another of my responsibilities is to serve as the Psychosocial Advocate in a collaborative relationship that Aspire has with a hospital system.  I will be part of a team providing intensive chronic disease management through an “advocacy model” of care.

I also serve on the Integration Work Group, where the search for other integrated healthcare projects is undertaken.  The goal is to change the culture of Aspire from being “just” a behavioral health care provider to being a provider of physical health care as well, and to have an understanding of the impact on the whole health of an individual.

Because of my background and passion for Dialectical Behavior Therapy, I have also been asked to help train and coordinate the development of Aspire’s DBT Program.  We offer two DBT trainings each year as an introduction to DBT, and we will be offering Advanced DBT Training for staff who have been participating in DBT as group facilitators.

What does a typical day as Director of Healthcare Integration Services look like? 

It is truly different every day. As Project Manager for the SAMHSA grant, it may include leading a committee meeting, writing reports, or coordinating needs of our primary care clinic.  Meetings also take place on a regular basis with the other organizations included in the grant, as well as SAMHSA personnel.

Webinars are also part of my daily activity.  I spend time preparing and delivering presentations about the grant, and about integrated healthcare.  In addition, I present trainings for DBT at various times throughout the year.  Beginning in June, some of my days will include the role of Psychosocial Advocate in an advocacy model called IHAP (Integrated Healthcare Advocacy Program).  I also attend various meetings, including Director’s meetings as part of my daily routine.  Keeping current on integrated healthcare news and information and communicating this information to staff at Aspire is an on-going responsibility as well.

What in your educational background and work experience prepared you for your current position?

My experience as a licensed mental health counselor has helped push me towards integrated healthcare.  During my previous employment at another community mental health agency, I was assigned the task of integrating a team of therapists into an FQHC (Federally Qualified Health Center).  Over 6 years, we were able to go from a referral model to a fully integrated health center.  This ignited a passion in me, and I began pursuing a Doctorate of Behavioral Health from Arizona State University.  This degree is specifically designed for integrated healthcare, and includes cutting-edge philosophies and techniques for integrated healthcare.

If you weren’t working in this field, what would you be doing? 

If I was asked this question ten years ago, I would have said television news.  After my experience with integrated healthcare and completing the program at ASU, I have to say teaching.

What is it that drew you to the field of mental health?

My husband was a pastor, and we were ministering at a church with several women who had major mental health issues.  After our first month at the church, several of these women came to me for assistance, and I knew then that I needed to be properly trained in order to really help them.  I then went for my Master’s degree, and the rest is history.

What impact do you feel your work has had on Aspire and its clients?

This question is difficult to answer at this point.  I hope that my work has a positive impact on both clients and staff.  My desire is to bring a passion for integrated healthcare, and to play a role in helping to establish Aspire as a leader in integrated care.

What things do you do to help you cope with the demands of your job?

I enjoy being active with my church, doing various “projects” around the house, spending time with my three daughters and my great nieces and nephews (no grandchildren yet).

My oldest daughter is a licensed mental health counselor and works as a substance abuse therapist in Elkhart, Indiana.  She and I can spend hours on the phone talking about various mental health issues. My middle daughter and her husband live in Colorado, where she is a corporate attorney for Camp Bow Wow.  We enjoy our Skype talks and our visits to the Rocky Mountains!  My youngest is very active and energetic.  She is in high school and is very involved in figure skating.

Donna Vaughan is the Director of Healthcare Integration Services at Aspire Indiana. While the beliefs and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Ms. Vaughan, you can learn more about Aspire Indiana at https://www.facebook.com/AspireIndiana.

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