Health, Lifestyle, News

Health Center’s new top doctor starts work today

Carlos Cappas

LYNN — Lynn Community Health Center’s sustained effort to expand behavioral care takes another step forward today when Dr. Carlos Cappas goes to work.

The  native of Puerto Rico is leaving Boston Children’s Hospital to work as the Center’s chief behavioral health officer. Cappas’ specialty, according to a statement provided by the Center, is making sure a patient’s primary care and behavioral health work hand in hand. 

“At Lynn Community Health Center I look forward to building relationships with patients, clinicians, staff and community partners in order to collaboratively work towards deepening the integration of primary care and behavioral health services, while providing quality of care in a fiscally sustainable and patient-centered manner,” Cappas said in the statement.

At Boston Children’s, Cappas worked to combine the efforts of 12 pediatric primary care practices building on his prior experience with 

the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership (MBHP).

“He is the behavioral health leader we need as we tackle the challenge of a new MassHealth payment model, and new ways for funders and payors to evaluate the quality of our work,” said Center CEO Dr. Kiame Mahaniah.

Cappas has held both clinical and administrative leadership roles at two federally-qualified community health centers in Massachusetts, where he witnessed both the successes of collaborative care as well as the clinical and operational barriers that can make care difficult. 

Ultimately, this experience led him to seek out more administrative roles to complement his clinical expertise and to focus on strategies that address the complex behavioral and social issues that impact care, particularly for underserved communities. 

Cappas received his doctoral degree from Puerto Rico’s Ponce Health Sciences University and completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Clinical Health Psychology in Primary Care at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. 

He also holds a master’s degree in business administration in Healthcare Management from UMass Boston.

Cappas starts his job at the Union Street center just over a week after the Center joined U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton and mental health care advocates in calling on Congress to pass legislation designating 9-8-8 as the universal telephone number for the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline system. 

The system currently operates through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Veteran’s Crisis Line. Advocates of 9-8-8 note that both lines have 10-digit numbers that are not easy to memorize. 

Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Geoff Pechinsky expressed the Center’s support for 9-8-8. 

The Center’s behavioral health focus also extends to addiction treatment. It is one of four organizations picked in June, 2018 as part of a $1.8 million program to combat opioid abuse. 

The grant, provided by RIZE Massachusetts, is designed to expand on-demand treatment of opioid abuse, with an eye toward improving quality of life for patients. 

The Center’s similar health care facilities in Boston, Brockton and Worcester were selected “for their collaborative approaches to treatment that facilitate coordination among medical, behavioral, and community organizations,” according to a statement by RIZE Massachusetts.

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