Are kids ready to go back to school? Are you? By Jill Jesso-White on August 12, 2021 in Community Health News Help is Here at Community Health Chelsea Greeno, PMHNP-BC, weathered Covid, graduate school and working fulltime while raising a family (she graduated in May 2021 with a master’s degree). Through it all she recognized a growing reality in her community – the need for psychiatric help for individuals, families and especially children. “My career led me to accept the pediatric nurse practitioner job at Community Health. I’m hoping to do a lot more family work as well.” Greeno grew up in Pittsford, Vermont, and from high school, attended Castleton University graduating with a degree in nursing in 2014. After per diem hospital work, she joined Community Health where her career blossomed very quickly. “There were things I didn’t even know I was interested in until I had to cover for other nurses on maternity leave or had left to go back to school. I wouldn’t have been able to have such a broad perspective of how medical, mental health and social aspects of a person are really important in what they do in their life and how they interact with other people,” she said. At Community Health she was exposed to public health nursing, primary care nursing, managing disease processes over a lifetime and care management. “I really enjoy being able to follow a person and help them over a period of time, versus an acute situation in the hospital,” she said. “I get to know them, to see their progress.” As a primary care nurse, Greeno was introduced to the medication assisted treatment (MAT) program treating individuals with substance use disorders and in 2017 was named lead MAT care manager, working with a growing and very vulnerable population. The idea of further education in behavioral health became a clear career path for her. All of the primary care opportunities and experiences working at Community Health led her to where she is today. “I had no idea I was interested in psychiatric nursing until I was thrown into it one day. I realized this is a huge need in the population and it’s a very difficult position, you have to be the right type of person.” Behavioral health was identified as the second most needed service in a health assessment survey for Rutland County in 2018. Since that time, demand has increased significantly, and dominates the priority list of provider services at Community Health. “There is a huge need especially with Covid. The kids need help,” Greeno said. “People are still scared with Covid, they don’t know what’s going on for the upcoming school year. They lived in chaos for a year and a half. Everybody is stressed and there is anxiety over what’s to come.” Changes in behavior, changes in sleep habits, social media problems. During Covid kids were isolated and cut off from in-person social interactions and an increase in social bullying are all issues Greeno has observed. Currently there are 9.5 fulltime therapists working within Community Health’s Behavioral Health team, with counselors available at every one of the organization’s seven practices, including pediatrics. Despite increasing the staff by more than a third in the past year, the number of patient referrals is outpacing the hiring, according to Behavioral Health Director Christopher Chadwick. Community Health’s team of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed social workers, licensed mental health counselors, licensed alcohol and drug counselors, behavioral health care managers and medication assisted treatment (MAT) care managers provided over 17,000 patient visits in 2020. “In our community we have a lot of patients who need behavioral health services. The main driver was that I saw a need in the community, and it is a passion of mine, so I went for it,” Greeno said. “I hope to help with early intervention and screening to help kids develop into healthy and functional adults.” Juggling school, work, home and the pandemic was intense, but Greeno credits Community Health’s support for career development as a major part of her ability to advance professionally and address a community need. “My team at Community Health helped me get through school, they worked with me the entire time. If I needed to take time off, work fewer days, they really invested in me to become a provider for their organization,” Greeno said. Working at a federally qualified health center (FQHC), she is eligible for government repayment of a portion of her college loans, along with a partial loan repayment match from Community Health. “It’s pretty significant,” she said. “I worked hard and was able to pay back most of my undergrad loans through that program.” Chelsea Greeno, PMHNP-BC, joined Community Health following graduation from Castleton University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program in 2014. In May of 2021, she received a master’s degree as a certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner from MCPHS University. As a pediatric psychiatric nurse practitioner, Greeno is part of Community Health’s Behavioral Health team based in Rutland, serving individuals of all ages. For more information about Community Health and our network of services, please visit our website chcrr.org Community Health is Vermont’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a network of primary care, pediatric, behavioral health, dental and pharmacy services with offices in Rutland, Brandon, Castleton, West Pawlet and Shoreham. Community Dental offices are located in Rutland and Shoreham, Community Health Pediatrics is in Rutland and Behavioral Health services are available at all of our locations. Community Health Express Care Centers, open 7 days a week, are located at the Rutland and Castleton Community Health Centers. If you are a health care professional interested in our career development programs, check our online Career Center or call us at 802-779-9036.