When Bryan Hatcher announced in January that he was stepping down as CareNet President, he said he was doing so because his new position as Vice President of Behavioral Health for Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic—a large community health system serving vulnerable populations along the border of Washington and Oregon—was a “calling,” and because he knew CareNet would be in great hands.
Before his departure at the end of March, Hatcher shared thoughts in this question-and-answer about his 23 years with the organization and where he sees CareNet heading.
What are the most important changes you’ve seen in behavioral health care in your time with CareNet?
Stigma has been the bear for reaching people who really need our services. But if there was a benefit to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was that it became the great eliminator of stigma as a barrier to behavioral health services. We have all been so challenged with additional stressors, uncertainties and isolation, that the need for our services outweighs the social pressures. As a profession, behavioral health is becoming less siloed in the health care world. And our integrated care efforts to embed behavioral health providers within other medical clinics and teams is an indicator of minimizing the silo-paradigm.
What do you believe is CareNet’s most important work today and moving forward?
I pursued a degree in public health in response to my belief that behavioral health, like the rest of health care, should be focusing on prevention and early intervention efforts. I have held as a mantra: “Anything I can do today to keep someone from needing CareNet’s services is a good thing.” What I’ve learned is that prevention efforts do indeed help us catch some folks earlier in their decline, which leads to a quicker and often more sustainable outcome. And every effort I have been a part of discovers individuals who desperately needed our services and would not have found their way to care had we not been at a health fair, marriage seminar, etc.
When people look on your tenure, what would you like believe about your leadership?
It is my hope that everyone at CareNet understands that we care for each other as a way of keeping a strong organization to care for those in the community who need and seek our services. We have and continue to make progress toward modernizing our technology and capacities, but the way we care for each other is the foundation.
What gives you confidence in CareNet’s future?
CareNet is a unique entity with incredible support from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist, the state and multiple stakeholders around the state. Although we continue to work out operational models to bridge us from fee for service to population health/value-based contracts, it is who we are that will sustain us and propel us forward.
How will you bring what you learned at CareNet to your new role?
I learned some time ago that leadership is about the way you treat people. CareNet has affirmed that time and time again. There are operational and budgetary mandates that have to be managed; doing that without losing sight of those you serve is critical to success and sustainability.