News for and about CAHS Employees
March 2017
In this issue ...
CARP and MDMHC Mardi Gras Fun
Behavioral Health Collaborative, March 17
Join the "CAHS Pack" and Walk
CAHS / Open Health Care Clinic Partnership
DOW Grant Helps Fund School Therapist
New Brochure Features CBHS Services
New EBR Family Court Program
WBR Coalition Presents Wreath at Arlington
Heart Health, Parenting Wisely & Celebrations
Mardi Gras Fun at CAHS
Staff and clients at the Capital Area Recovery Program (CARP) and the Margaret Dumas Mental Health Clinic (MDMHC) celebrate Mardi Gras every year with festive activities. This year, CARP held its annual "parade" of floats that were created by its clients, and MDMHC staff celebrated with fun decorations throughout the center.

Coming Up At CAHS

  Behavioral Health Collaborative

Topic: Opioid abuse, prevention, and treatment
Screening: Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict

(a documentary produced by the Drug Enforcement Administration)
March 17, 8:30 - 10:30 a.m.
CAHS Government St., Room 200

This meeting, designed for prevention and treatment professionals, will feature a screening of the insightful movie, Chasing the Dragon: The Life of An Opiate Addict.  

After the screening, a group of experts will detail current opioid abuse issues, will outline factors that have contributed to the epidemic, and will describe effective prevention and treatment strategies. Meeting participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and discuss the next steps in opioid abuse prevention and treatment efforts.

Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict, is a documentary, produced by the DEA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to educate students and young adults about the dangers of opioid addiction. 

Joe Kanter, MD, MPH, Medical Director, New Orleans Health Department

Rebecca Nugent, Chemistry Manager, Louisiana State Police Crime Lab

Brad Byerley, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
Reginald Parker, Nurse Supervisor, Baton Rouge Treatment Center
Anthony Pierre, Jr., Person in Recovery

Facts and Figures
United States: In 2015, opioid abuse was responsible for more than 33,000 deaths.
Louisiana: Between 2014 and 2015, opioid deaths increased by more than 12%. 

“Opioid abuse has a devastating toll on individuals, families, and communities," said CAHS Executive Director Jan Kasofsky, PhD. "This discussion is part of our ongoing effort to build awareness about the impact addiction has on our communities and connect people to the critical treatment services they need.”
Join the "CAHS Pack"
The Employee Relations Committee (ERC) invites you, your family, and friends to join team "CAHS Pack" for the 2017 Capital Area Heart Walk, April 8, at LSU. The walk is free and anyone can participate. The goal is to raise funds for the American Heart Association to help fight heart disease, a leading cause of death among people diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

Capital Area Heart Walk

Saturday, April 8 @ LSU Old Front Nine
(former golf course, corner of Nicholson and Nicholson Extension)
Activities start at 8 a.m., walk starts at 9
Register here (search for Team CAHS Pack on the registration page)
Team members who raise at least $100 get a free American Heart Association t-shirt
For more information, contact Lynetta Butler at
What's New At CAHS
CAHS and Open Health Care Clinic
Create Model for Integrated Health Care

A new partnership between Capital Area Human Services and the Open Health Care Clinic (OHCC) is providing a unique blend of primary and behavioral health care that has already helped 125 clients since its launch last September.

OHCC is a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) that has recently expanded its services and moved to a larger building at 3801 North Blvd., near the Baton Rouge General Hospital - Mid City. OHCC provides adult and pediatric primary care, dental, and behavioral health services, all in one location.

“Almost as soon as OHCC received its FQHC designation I thought we could form an important collaboration to improve overall health for both their physical health patients and our behavioral health clients," said CAHS Executive Director Jan Kasofsky, PhD. "We share the same belief in integrated care, and we continue to refine convenient referral processes that maximize acceptance and retention by our patients and reinforce best practices for their care.“

Dr. Kasofsky said the target group is clients with mental health and/or substance use issues who are being served by the OHCC, but who have not previously accessed behavioral health services. Through the agreement, CAHS provides a social worker, Jessica Whitney, LCSW, (
pictured) who is located at OHCC and who works with OHCC's primary care doctors to help clients on site.

"I feel like a pioneer in this exciting, innovative partnership," said Jessica. "We are leading the way in the region to offer co-located behavioral health services that allow clients to receive behavioral health services the same day as their primary care visits."

Since the program's inception in September 2016, Jessica has helped 125 clients of all ages, including children and adolescents. Of those, 59% were female, 41% male, 69% African American, 21% Caucasian, and 10% Hispanic. In addition to offering counseling to 58 of those clients, Jessica referred 67 others for more extensive evaluations and treatment by CAHS' psychiatrists and behavioral health staff.

Jessica says most of the clients she has seen are covered by Medicaid and Medicare, and the majority experience some level of depression, anxiety, psychotic disorders, substance and/or alcohol abuse. 

OHCC CEO Tim Young says their clients often do not recognize their behavioral health needs. He said as OHCC physicians deliver primary care, they are also attentive for behavioral health issues. Those persons who show signs of depression, anxiety, or substance and alcohol use are referred immediately to Jessica who is located just down the hall.

"We're off to a successful start in this partnership and are working to strengthen it to provide maximum benefit to the community. We know that CAHS provides quality care, and our services coordinate well to fully help our clients," he said.
DOW Grant Provides School Therapist

Capital Area is the proud recipient of a DOW Chemical Company grant that is providing an additional School Based therapist on the east side of Iberville Parish. Dow approached CAHS about the financial help after reading in the newspaper about CAHS' flood recovery and response efforts.

The services will focus on students affected by last August's flooding as well as the mental health needs of other students. Sherry Verdel, LPC, will serve in St. Gabriel at East Iberville Elementary and High School and MSA East Academy. 

Above (l-r): Therapist Sherry Verdel; School Based Supervisor Larie Acosta; East Iberville Elementary School Principal Jillian Dotson; and East Iberville High School Principal Meshell Hill.
Above: Sherry Verdel (left) and Larie Acosta with MSA East Academy Principal Charles Johnson.
New Brochure Features CBHS Services
Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Services has a beautiful new brochure that gives updated information about its programs, services, and hours of operation.

In addition to the brochure, CBHS is getting a facelift in its lobby and other areas to make the space more inviting and engaging for our families and younger clients.

Stay tuned for upcoming pictures and information about those renovations and improvements. Meanwhile, check out the new CBHS brochure here.
CAHS Partners to Help EBR Family Court
CAHS has entered into an agreement with the Family Court of East Baton Rouge Parish to assess and treat parents on a volunteer basis in the new Family Preservation Court program.

CAHS Clinical Director Steve Aguillard said the program is designed to help one or both parents who are dealing with substance use and/or behavioral health issues. He said those issues interfere with the basic functioning, well-being, and happiness of families. He said the program has the potential to help families reunite and stay together with parents getting the treatment needed to succeed. 

Prospective clients are identified by the family court judges and participate in CAHS treatment programs for 12 months, during which time they receive mental health assessments, drug screens, skills for relapse prevention, parenting skills, and anger management training. The services are provided in both individual and group settings.
WBR Coalition Members Attend National Conference and Participate in Ceremonies at Arlington Cemetery

Members of the West Baton Rouge Healthy Community Coalition (WBRHCC) recently returned from a national leadership forum in Washington, DC, where they joined 3,000 adults and youth to hone their skills as substance abuse prevention advocates and community leaders.

In addition to the Forum, the Coalition members visited members of Congress on Capitol Hill and participated in a wreath-presentation ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.

The West Baton Rouge group included three CAHS staff members who serve on the Coalition: Vivian Gettys, CAHS Prevention Division Director; Toddie Milstead, Drug-Free Communities Project Coordinator for WBR; and Clara Hudson, LMSW, who is a social worker at the WBR Parish Health Unit.

Above (l-r): WBR Coalition members Clara Hudson, Jacob Chelette, Jazmin Domingue, Jonathan Conaway, Vivian Gettys, Mya Pitre, Toddie Milstead, Stephanie Pitre, and David Milstead.

The Coalition representatives attended the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America's (CADCA) National Leadership Forum, the nation's premier training event for substance abuse prevention and treatment professionals and researchers. The Forum included more than 70 training courses to help participants learn effective strategies to address drug-related problems in their communities.

“Our representatives returned home with the inspiration, information, and strategies needed to continue the excellent work in our community to keep it safe, healthy and drug free," said Anatole Vincent, chair of the WBRHCC.

Toddie said the team learned more about being substance abuse prevention advocates and community leaders through their activities in Washington. "It was empowering to have our voices heard about how to prevent drug use and abuse in the United States."
As part of the Forum's "Capitol Hill Day," the WBR Coalition team visited with U.S. Congressman Garret Graves of Baton Rouge (pictured left) to discuss the Coalition’s work and the need for ongoing support of the Drug Free Communities (DFC) program.  
The Coalition is funded through a five-year DFC grant to address underage alcohol and tobacco use in West Baton Rouge. CAHS provides administrative and fiscal oversight of the program.

"We fully support the Coalition’s efforts to bring together professionals and community members to raise awareness and effect the change so desperately needed” said Jan Kasofsky, PhD, Executive Director of CAHS. 

Over the past year, the WBRHCC has initiated several activities, including 1) co-hosting a town hall meeting on the prevention of underage drinking, 2) conducting compliance checks with the WBR Sheriff's Office to reduce youth access to alcohol and tobacco, and 3) producing school events such as Red Ribbon Month and Kick Butts Day. More here.


Wreath-Presentation at Arlington National Cemetery

Above: Representatives of the WBR Youth Advocacy Leadership Board placed a wreath, provided by WBR Parish President Riley Berthelot, at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. “It was a great honor to show our respect on behalf of the Coalition for the sacrifice of the unknowns as well as for everyone who has served our country in uniform," said Youth Coalition Member Mya Pitre. Thanks to Toddie Milstead who arranged the event.

Below: Joining the WBRHCC representatives at the wreath ceremony was Retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Dr. John Harrison (back right), Special Assistant To CADCA CEO General Arthur T. Dean. Also attending the ceremony was U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip Stephen "Steve" Scalise who represents Louisiana's First Congressional District.

CAHS Conducts Third Training for BRPD Academy
CAHS Program Manager John Nosacka, LCSW, coordinated a Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT) for the Baton Rouge Police Department’s 83rd Training Academy, Feb. 20-24. This marks the third time CAHS has been given a week of the Academy's curriculum to teach about behavioral health issues, crisis communications, and de-escalation skills. 
In addition to John's role of directing the training, several CAHS staff presented during the week: Bryan Gros, Sharon Schmidtfranz, Cynthia Clark, Karen Pino, Scott Thomas, Matricia Green, and Kyllie Jenkins. 

Other community partners were part of the Academy's faculty, including BRPD staff, East Baton Rouge Coroner’s Office, the Crisis Intervention Center, Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area, Southeast Louisiana Veterans Health Care System, the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Above:  "This was one of the best classes we've had. The cadets were open minded and willing to consider approaches that could be more effective with people in behavioral health crises," said John Nosacka, pictured with the cadets of the 83rd BRPD Training Academy.
Activities At CAHS
ERC Hosts "Candy Gram" Fundraiser
The Employee Relations Committee thanks everyone for their enthusiastic participation in the CAHS "Candy Gram" sale. Almost 1,000 candy grams were sold, and the proceeds will help fund future events for CAHS staff.

The Candy Grams were a big hit, as employees selected from eight different Valentines cards (combined with gift bags of assorted candies) that either the employees delivered to their co-workers or ERC members delivered on their behalf.
Promoting Heart Health for Employees and Clients

Thanks to our staff and clients who participated in various activities in February to promote Heart Health Month and to encourage daily exercise.

Above (l-r): Lisa Pickett, Joyce Fisher, and Susan Sutton participated in the Hands Only CPR demonstration at the Margaret Dumas Mental Health Center.

Above: Paula Dunn, RN, Gonzales Mental Health Center, talked about the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) Diet that was developed to lower blood pressure without medication. 

Above: CAHS client Bridget Brown gives a bottle of water to client Harry Washington as part of the CAHS "Walk to Wellness" event, Feb. 8, at the Government Street location. More than 85 clients received pedometers, water bottles, water, and hand sanitizers, along with information about healthy eating. Special thanks to CAHS staff members Stephen Aguillard, Lynetta Butler, Altwone Ceasor, Daniel Cook, Tonja Myles, Karen Pino, Shannon Southall, Megan Tuminello, and to CAHS clients Bridget Brown, and Yvette and George Jarrett, all, who volunteered to help at the event.
"Parenting Wisely" Program Celebrates Successes

Mirror of Grace Outreach held its second graduation ceremony, Feb. 16, for participants of the Parenting Wisely Program at the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.  

"Thank you for taking a chance on us. You could have decided that we weren’t worth teaching because of our pasts but you didn’t. We really appreciate it," one parent said.

CAHS' Prevention Department (staff members include Vivian Gettys, Charlene Gillard, and Bridget Lewis) funds the Parenting Wisely Program through a federal block grant and monitors the program's activities. Mirror of Grace Outreach began the program in 2015 at its Baton Rouge outreach center and expanded to include the EBR Parish Prison and the Capital Area Reentry Program in the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office. 

Parenting Wisely is an evidence-based self-administered, interactive, computer-based program that teaches parents important parenting and conflict management skills.
The program is designed to enhance child adjustment and reduce delinquency and substance abuse. It also seeks to improve problem-solving, parent–school communication, school attendance, and academic performance. The new class began Feb. 20.
Who's Who at CAHS

New to the CAHS Family:  London Avery Meche
Scott Meche, PhD., CAHS Director of Developmental Disabilities, is totally smitten with his daughter, London Avery Meche. London was born Dec. 12, 2016, weighed 9 pounds, 2 ounces, and measured 20 inches. She has a full head of dark hair and beautiful blue eyes. Dr. Meche would like to thank everyone for their well wishes and support.
Welcome:  Kay Gaudet

Thanks to Kay Gaudet who is serving as interim Director of Developmental Disabilities while Scott Meche is on paternity leave. 

Kay, a licensed pharmacist since 1973, served for 12 years at the Louisiana Department of Health in several leadership roles, including Director of Pharmacy for the Office of Behavioral Health, Medicaid Deputy Director, Section Chief of Program Operations, and Pharmacy Program Director. 

Prior to state service, Kay was a pharmacist and SURS Analyst at Unisys Corporation, was an instructor at Spencer College, and was the owner of Gaudet's St. Gabriel Pharmacy. She earned her pharmacy degree at the University of Louisiana at Monroe.
OLOL Nursing Students Continue Work With CAHS

We appreciate the continued partnership with Our Lady of the Lake College, and we welcome four new nursing students to CAHS: Madison Miciotto, Kassie McNabb, Erin Cole, and Elizabeth Sciambra. These junior-level students are assigned to the Center for Adult Behavioral Health for their practicum in mental health. The students work Tuesdays and Fridays at CABH where they are paired with registered nurses to provide direct patient care in a community mental health clinic.

Above (l-r): Madison Miciotto, OLOL Instructor Lauren Hollinsworth, and Kassie McNabb.

Above (l-r): Erin Cole and Elizabeth Sciambra.
Reminders At CAHS

W-2 Tax Forms Available Online

W-2 forms for the calendar year 2016 are now available in Louisiana Employees On-line (LEO) for all active employees who elected by Dec. 31, 2016, to self-view and print their W-2s on-line. To access your forms, click here to log into LEO, using your User ID and password, and then follow the instructions to view and print your W-2.

For employees who did not elect the online LEO self-view and print option, their 2016 W-2 forms were mailed Jan. 31 to their addresses on file as of Jan. 1, 2017. Duplicate copies of W-2s may be printed from LEO.

Tony Square, Human Resources Supervisor 
Phone: (225) 922-2710

Spring 2017 Training Resumes

CAHS employees may attend this session at no charge
May 3  Earn 3 Ethical CEUs  Register here
Place / Time: Government St., Bldg. 2, Room 200, 1 - 4:15 p.m.
Topic:  When Clinical and Social Justice Ethics Collide
Presenter: Joseph V. Keegan, LCSW-BACS
Overview: This training will focus on complex ethical issues that can arise in clinical practice and that have social justice implications. The training will present examples and the class will use ethical decision making to generate potential solutions, based on competing values.
We Want to Hear From You!
CAHS Connections is your newsletter, about and for the employees and activities of Capital Area Human Services. We welcome your ideas and photos. Items of interest include program news, events, achievements, presentations, births, 25+-year anniversaries, contests, etc.

Please email your ideas and photos to or click on one of these names to send an email with your story ideas:
Karen Bray, Rafael Maza, Lynetta Butler,
Michael BrownRichard Brown, Jr.Betty Grant, and Shenitha Smith.

In case you missed it ... 
Click here to see last month's edition of CAHS Connections
Our Mission
To facilitate person-centered recovery by empowering people
of all ages with behavioral health needs and developmental disability challenges to strengthen relationships, establish independence, and enhance their ability to improve their
physical health and emotional well being.
Our Vision
Our network provides local access to best practices that respond to the unique needs of individuals living in the District's communities.

Copyright © 2017 CAHS/Capital Area Human Services, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp