“CONNECTing” in Deer Lodge County

By Tami Martin

February 2019 I was hired to be the CONNECT Admin for Deer Lodge County. There were a lot of unknowns then as it was going but not Statewide yet. I didn’t let that keep me from learning everything I could about CONNECT. I perused the website, signed up to receive the blogs, read everything on every tab and revisited on a regular basis. And still do.

I began my conversations with service providers, not limiting it to just the medical and counseling fields. If anyone worked with any family in any possible way, they were open game to hear about CONNECT. This is a wonderful resource we have coming to our community! Always the approach I took. And now, we have this wonderful resource in our community.

Truly it began with my attitude of CONNECT. Perhaps because I am not just a social worker by profession but also at heart. I want to see my community grow and prosper. This can happen when health is cultivated, fostered and nurtured. CONNECT is a tool to help do that.

As I talked with providers about how or why they might use CONNECT, I took advantage of those conversations to brainstorm ideas. Immediately I had buy-in. Now they tell other providers who are contacting me.

So that is the attitude, but there is also a strategic plan. It is a four step process that the CONNECT team has developed for us. It is crucial to follow this plan. The thing is though, once this process starts, it doesn’t end on step four. It is fluid and cycles through. Sometimes I find I am in a couple steps at the same time, and that is ok. What is important is to follow the steps and keep doing it.

During the Roadshow, I went for training. I didn’t leave until I had all my questions answered. I still have questions that come up, but that is normal and expected. This is really so simple that we ourselves are who makes it complicated. Break out of the paradigms, expectations and pride – then not only is the beauty of the simplicity of the program revealed, but the vision of what it is and can be expanded.

I walked away from the Roadshow with my own plan. I wanted to have a Launch Party the day before our Go Live date. I felt this was important to have because I had been talking about CONNECT coming for 9 months and now I was going to ask providers to sign up but wait before using it. I wanted there to be a celebration for all the hard work, this was the Launch Party. The Go Live date helped to get key partners on board before actually using the program. This didn’t mean every provider in the county. We still wouldn’t be “live” if that were the case. But it did mean providers would be successful in making referrals.

This isn’t something I can do on my own. Not only do I need my lead team (which is two others), I also depend on my Regional Admin. Without her help I would not be where I am in my community. The support, encouragement and guidance she gives me almost daily and for sure weekly is crucial. I don’t take a lot of her time, but even if it is 1% of my time with her, that is invaluable. My lead team helps me to implement in our community how our community needs. They help me to make CONNECT personal for our community.

I don’t believe if I had the approach of “I can do this on my own ” it would be successful. After all, that flies in the face of what CONNECT is. I love that this is a “wholelistic” approach. This is not a typo. It is “whole”. I think I have always believed it takes a community. CONNECT is a tool to help the community to help each other – quickly, simply, and completely.

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