Richard Fischer has been working at 165 Lancaster Street in Portland as a case manager since 2013. He was drawn to Maine Behavioral Healthcare because of our philosophy on coordinated care. “With psychiatry, therapy, and case management services under one roof it makes caring for our patients more efficient. In my previous job we had to gather outside agencies to do that work and it was really hard to connect everything together.”
As a part of the behavioral health home (BHH) team, Richard’s job is to coordinate services and provide support for his clients. “My clients can come to me and talk about an issue they’re experiencing and I help them problem solve. I can connect them with resources, advocate for them, and provide a stable figure in their lives. Other mental health providers are usually only able to provide services from their offices, but I’m flexible.”
To help explain this “flexibility,” Richard described the hypothetical scenario of a client with high anxiety who might feel unable to attend a job interview. “I would first connect the client with a vocational worker and we’d problem solve together. I might then attend the interview with the client so I can be with them before the meeting and help them process afterward.” In situations like this, Richard can also be the “eyes and ears” for a client’s other providers, and offer insights on how to improve care moving forward.
Thinking back on his successes as a case manager, Richard recalled a client who came to him with a history of alcohol misuse and mental illness. He was on the verge of homelessness and had no Social Security Benefits. They worked together to find housing and Richard helped him navigate the social service system. “I don’t consider it a story of ‘my’ success, though,” Richard said. “I consider it the client’s success. He was in a good place because of the work he did.”
“Rich has a very generous nature with everyone,” said Sara Schmalz, LCSW, the program manager who nominated Richard for this spotlight. “He is dedicated both to his team and to his work with clients. He’s a real team player and a go-to resource for his fellow case managers.”
When recognized for his outstanding dedication to our clients, Richard’s modesty shines through. “It’s really not about me. I really credit the hard work of our team,” he said. “I derive a lot of support from my peers, and I like to return it.”
In addition to his work at Lancaster Street, Richard has been working with the Resilience RAISE team in MMC’s Outpatient Psychiatry Department for the past year. The program is for young adult clients with early onset psychosis. His role is to provide case management support to those clients in need and to advise the team on community resources. His work has helped strengthen the link between MBH case management services and those offered at Maine Medical Center.