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Innovations : somerset-co-occuring-collaborative

Clinical Innovations

Title: Somerset Co-occurring Collaborative


Organization: Somerset Behavioral Health/ Three Lower Counties/ Somerset County Health Department    

Innovation type: Integrated Mental and Behavioral Health    

What They’re Doing: Integrating mental and behavioral health services for patients with co-occurring diagnoses    

Clinical Innovation: Somerset Behavioral Health, a department within the Somerset County Health Department (an organization dedicated to treating patients with substance abuse issues) and Three Lower Counties and Eastern Shore Psychological Services (a private mental health clinic) have teamed up to create the Somerset Co-occurring Collaborative, which offers integrated treatment to patients with mental health and substance abuse disorders.    

All clients at each agency are screened at intake for substance abuse and mental health disorders. Based on the severity of each disorder, a decision is made for appropriate placement and the necessary referrals are completed. According to the MOU executed by all participating agencies, clients with moderate to high mental health needs and low to moderate substance abuse needs are treated by the mental health agencies. Clients with low to moderate mental health needs and moderate to high substance abuse needs are treated by the substance abuse agency. Clients with high mental health and high substance abuse needs may be treated by both agencies with close collaboration between clinicians. This framework has provided a supportive relationship among the agencies and eliminated duplicity of treatment services.    

A “co-occurring specialist” provides consultative services to staff, integrates treatment plans between agencies and provide case management services. Although one organization takes the lead, they coordinate patient care throughout treatment using joint decision making and shared team meetings, treatment plans, problem lists, medication and lab reports.   The organizations also participate in local joint training throughout the year to improve competency in working with the co-occurring population and enhance communication and collaboration with each other.    

Evaluation Type: Quasi-Experimental    

Evaluation Plan: Evaluation examined reduction in substance use and arrests and increase in employment for the population served.   

Data regarding pre and post treatment arrests, homelessness, graduation rates, and substance use is collected and submitted via SMART to ADAA.  

Patient Health and Cost Outcomes:    

In 2010, data demonstrates:    

  • 76% reduction in substance use

Other Outcomes of Interests

  • 35% increase in employment and   

  • 86% reduction in arrests for this population.   

  • Program retention rate is 89% and successful completion rate is 77%.

  • The program ranks first in the state in both of these measures for the past 3 years and has since the inception of the co-occurring program. High retention and completion rates helps Somerset keep people in treatment until they are successful. This avoids the start again -stop again cycle of ineffective treatment episodes. This is a tremendous cost savings to both the individual patient and the agencies involved in their care.   

Publications: None    

Target Population: Individuals with mental health and substance abuse issues in Somerset County.    

Date of Implementation: 2009

Contact: Craig Stofko, M.Ed., LCADC, Acting Health Officer,

Multimedia: Pending   

For more information: Please contact Craig Stofko.


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