Podcast: Summitstone Health Partners

Gina Thorne:                      Hi everyone. Welcome to the Harmony Foundation Podcast Series. And I’m pleased today to be joined with Austin Johnson and Caroline Bunn with SummitStone Health. Welcome.

Austin Johnson:                Hi.

Caroline Bunn:                  Hi

Gina Thorne:                      Its good to have you both here. I’m really excited that you’re on campus today.

Austin Johnson:                Great to be here.

Caroline Bunn:                  Thanks for having us.

Gina Thorne:                      Of course. And you know, on a beautiful day today, I mean, Sunday we had lots of snow and people still tried to brave the elements to come up. So, it’s nice that you guys did that, which is good.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yes. In my little Prius too.

Gina Thorne:                      That would have been fun. That would’ve been fun. You know, those car … they’re hearty cars, I mean, you probably could make it work.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      So, before we get into the specifics about SummitStone, we’d love to get a little background on both of you first, just talking a little bit about how you got into the field. And so, Austin, let’s start with you first.

Austin Johnson:                Okay.

Gina Thorne:                      So, what kind of put you in the field of working with addiction?

Austin Johnson:                So, I mean I have a long history of addiction within my family and then I struggled with addiction for a long time. So, in January, I’ll be celebrating my 9th year. And so-

Gina Thorne:                      Nice.

Caroline Bunn:                  Woo.

Gina Thorne:                      Good job.

Austin Johnson:                Yeah so, when I initially got clean and sober I really wanted to work with people that struggled with some of the things that I struggled with, and in a field that I knew a lot about, but didn’t necessarily have the education. And then, I went back to school and got my bachelors in social work with a minor in criminology. So I, you know, this is a field that I hold near and dear to my heart because I truly believe that there is hope and there’s recovery. And that there’s different ways to establish that. So.

Gina Thorne:                      Nice. Thank you for sharing that.

Austin Johnson:                Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      And how about you Caroline?

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah. I have a slightly different path. So, when I was in my bachelors, I really thought I was gonna be a teacher and then it turned out that I wasn’t all that great at classroom management. And so … But what I also realized is that, like I would see these kids within a class of 30 where there were, always, at least one or two, maybe three or four kids who really seemed to be struggling more than other kids in the classroom. And I felt really drawn to help those few children ’cause they very clearly were not getting what they needed in that larger environment. So, I really went to grad school thinking I was gonna be a school counselor, and then got pulled to the more community health end of things. So, my background is in working with kids recovering from trauma.

                                                And then have done a number of other things, like working in hospital settings and schools, and then made the jump out of clinical work to do outreach for SummitStone about two months ago, and it’s been a really fun and really great fit.

Gina Thorne:                      Yeah. I mean I really see the work that you’re doing and what a lot of other people do as well, as far as being ambassadors and helping usher people to the right place, is vital.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      I mean, there’s a valuable role in everybody playing and working within the behavioral health space. And so … Well, thank you both for the work that you do I this field ’cause it’s not easy work.

Austin Johnson:                Nope.

Gina Thorne:                      So, we appreciate that. So, let’s talk a little bit about SummitStone Health Partners, it’s got 50 years of service, almost similar to Harmony, we’re celebrating our 50 years.

Austin Johnson:                Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      So, I think we’re almost, you know, I don’t know, when did you guys open, do you remember, specifically? I wonder who’s older.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah, we’ve … We’re older.

Gina Thorne:                      You’re older.

Austin Johnson:                ‘Cause we just celebrated [crosstalk 00:03:17] years.

Caroline Bunn:                  We’re looking good, though.

Gina Thorne:                      Okay.

Austin Johnson:                60 years.

Caroline Bunn:                  We’re over 60 years. 60 years.

Gina Thorne:                      Over 60?

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Oh, okay.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Over 60. Well then, you definitely are. I don’t know where I got the 50 from, but that’s great. Okay.

Caroline Bunn:                  I think it’s over 50 services. So, there are a number of different numbers we’ve got.

Gina Thorne:                      Oh, gotcha. Okay.

Caroline Bunn:                  All of our offices and then all of the … We’re in over 24 offices.

Austin Johnson:                We did just celebrate our 60 year anniversary.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      So, 60 years with 50 services.

Caroline Bunn:                  Over 50 services. Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      Yeah. And you treat people with substance use and mental health disorders.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      You’re actually the largest behavioral health provider of Medicaid in Larimer County, which is really impressive. What do you think sets your program apart from other programs?

Austin Johnson:                I mean, we really do provide, I wouldn’t say 50, I mean, I imagine there’s probably more services than 50. But, we just really try to fit the needs of the individual clients that walks in our door. From the moment that they come in for their intake, we are trying to fit their needs, whether they’re here for mental health services or there for substance use disorder, or both. So, we’re really trying to facilitate all the needs of this client, while … because their financial … I don’t know how to explain that, but. Oh shoot.

Caroline Bunn:                  Well, I’ll just in there. I mean, what I really love is that we treat people across the life span. So, we have a really robust, early childhood program here we go into daycare settings and support in that way. And then also offer parenting classes for parents with kids as young as a few months old, all the way up to older adults who are struggling with their … with whatever it is in their life that they’re struggling with. And then also, what I think is amazing is that, not only do we have our different offices throughout the county, but we’re in the jail, we’re in several different community health care clinics, we are in four different schools in the Thompson School District. I mean, we are really meeting people where they’re at, just across the county no matter where that is.

Gina Thorne:                      And it sounds like hitting every demographic as well.

Austin Johnson:                Right.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah.

Austin Johnson:                Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      Which is really not normal. Most people are very specific to one audience and it sounds like you all are really making yourselves available to everybody across the spectrum, which is terrific.

Female:                                Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      So, one thing, I feel I’d be remiss if we didn’t talk a little about your new position as MAT Administrator. Can you talk a little bit about what that means and what people would get from that if they were to come through your program?

Austin Johnson:                Yeah. So, our program, we have a medication assisted therapy, which we treat opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder with those medications. And we’ve been doing that for the past two years, is when we started our Suboxone program in Loveland. And then our Vivitrol programs are both in Fort Collins and Loveland. And so, really with this new position, the grant administrator, we’re looking to expand our services to our Fort Collins area. And also, we are expanding our services to a jail based pilot, so that when people come into the jail they are either be … you know, continue their MAT services or they are being induced within the walls. So, then they … When they leave, when they are released, they are connected with services, whether it’s with SummitStone or with other agencies, we’re making sure that they’re connected and hopefully reducing … definitely reducing overdoses and reducing recidivism.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s great.

Austin Johnson:                So, it’s a big deal for us. And we’re really, really proud of the work that we’re doing right now with the MAT work.

Gina Thorne:                      Yeah, we’re really fortunate to have that grant, ’cause I think communities across the country need it. I mean, we’re all facing this opiate crisis and so it’s really important to have that.

Austin Johnson:                Yes. Yes.

Caroline Bunn:                  Absolutely.

Gina Thorne:                      So, Caroline.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      What purchase, of $100 or less, has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?

Caroline Bunn:                  I’m gonna go with my dog. And we actually got him for free ’cause he was abandoned with us.

Gina Thorne:                      That is a great price.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      So, tell us about that, who’s your dog?

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah. So, we … He came out of a tough situation. It was a couple that was divorcing and couple … Nobody could agree to keep the dog and so … Just it was actually at a dinner party my husband and I met him. And it’s funny, because I’m more the dog person in our dynamic and my husband, Ryan, walked in and saw this dog and I’m surprised that we didn’t leave with him that night. And so, now we have a 105-pound St. Bernard/German Short Hair Pointer mix who …

Gina Thorne:                      Oh my goodness. Oh, my gosh.

Caroline Bunn:                  And that’s why I’m covered in dog hair 99.9% of the time.

Austin Johnson:                Me too ’cause I rode in your car.

Gina Thorne:                      That is a great … I mean, that’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yes. And Austin ’cause she was in my car. Yes, absolutely. So, that is the best, best purchase under $100 [inaudible 00:08:40], probably the best purchase, period. But, yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s fantastic. Oh, nice. Yeah. That’s great. Well congratulations on being a pet owner.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah. Thank you. Thank you.

Gina Thorne:                      So … And then, for you, Austin, if I were to play off the idea of the world “Harmony”, what do you think it means to live a life in harmony?

Austin Johnson:                I mean, that’s a large, that’s a very large question, I think. But, I think that being able to live in an environment where you have community support, and you have family support, and you just have this cohesive environment that supports a healthy living style. I don’t know, that’s … When I come up here I feel like this place is harmony to me. I mean, if I were to … you know, it’s a breath of fresh air and being able to just take in … I don’t know. Positivity. That’s a hard question.

Caroline Bunn:                  Well, I think it’s being at peace. Like, being at peace with yourself.

Austin Johnson:                Right.

Caroline Bunn:                  Being at peace with the world around you.

Austin Johnson:                Right.

Caroline Bunn:                  And, yeah, ’cause I mean, we live in a really chaotic world and not being pulled into that chaos and being able to be. Just have some calm somewhere.

Austin Johnson:                Right.

Gina Thorne:                      Great answer.

Austin Johnson:                The calm within the storm.

Gina Thorne:                      Yes.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yes.

Austin Johnson:                I think that’s a hard place to be at a lot of times, especially with working all the time, our families, and just being able to just be, just be. And so, I think that’s my idea of harmony.

Gina Thorne:                      Right.

Caroline Bunn:                  Yeah.

Gina Thorne:                      That’s a good answer. Thank you for that.

Caroline Bunn:                  I remember one time when I was working with kid, I said to this seven year old, “How do you know when you’re gonna be done with therapy? How will you know when we’re done?” And she’s like, “When I don’t have problems anymore.” And I’m like, “Well, that sounds great, but that’s not gonna happen.” And so, I think what harmony, where harmony comes in, is like being able to whether those storms ’cause we’re not gonna stop having problems, we’re not gonna stop having whatever comes up. And being able to be at peace or being able to have some sort of …

Gina Thorne:                      Yeah.

Austin Johnson:                Yeah. And move through that with grace [crosstalk 00:10:54].

Caroline Bunn:                  Yes. Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      Wonderful. Thank you for that. And so, Caroline, if someone wanted to access services at SummitStone, how could they get in touch with you?

Caroline Bunn:                  There are a lot of different ways for people to access services. So, the best, first step is to call our primarily line, and that is 970-494-4200. That’s gonna be a great number to get connected with services. It’s also the number to reach for crisis services. So, we also house the Larimer County … or the crisis center or Larimer County and that’s at 1217 Riverside Avenue in Fort Collins. And anybody can walk-in there, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to get support with a mental health or substance use crisis. But they can also call the 970-494-4200 number to get connected with somebody there, as well. And then, we also have walk-in services Monday through Thursday at our Bristlecone and Wilson offices. So, that’s in Fort Collins and Loveland.

Gina Thorne:                      Great. So, you’re making it very accessible for folks, which is what they need.

Caroline Bunn:                  Absolutely.

Austin Johnson:                Yes.

Gina Thorne:                      Really appreciate it. Well, both of you, thank you so much for taking the time to come up for the day. It’s a real pleasure to meet both of you and we look forward to sharing SummitStone’s work with the word and looking forward to continued partnership. Thank you.

Austin Johnson:                Yeah. Thanks for having us.

Caroline Bunn:                  Thank you. Yeah it was fun.

Summitstone Health Partners