Community hears about Trauma Informed Care


By Sue Cody

David-LabbyMD-0042Dr. David Labby recently gave a presentation in Clatsop County about Trauma Informed Care and its impact on improving community health. Labby is the retired chief medical officer at Health Share of Oregon Coordinated Care Organization (CCO).

The talk was coordinated by the Columbia Pacific CCO. Educators, health care providers, counselors business professionals and others attended.

A 1998 study called ACEs, (Adverse Childhood Experiences) linked childhood trauma to illness and early death. The study was based on 17,000 Kaiser Permanente patients. More than 50 subsequent studies have shown a dramatic increase in social and economic consequences for those who have experienced some childhood trauma.

Trauma included repeated sexual, physical or emotional abuse; unmet basic needs (food, clothing); living with an adult who had a substance abuse issue; or those who were separated from a parent.

The data shows those individuals who suffered traumas at an early age had difficulty in school; were more likely to be incarcerated; had substance abuse issues; had job insecurity; or were homeless.

“Health is a community product,” Labby said. “If you change your lens of who these people are, you change your perception.”

A 2012 Health Commons Grant was given as a springboard for Health Share of Oregon to better serve the Medicaid population in the Portland metro area. Researches interviewed Medicaid recipients where they lived – even under bridges. The researchers learned that “High Needs/High Cost” patients needed to be asked not “What’s wrong with them?” but “What happened to them?”

A high number of those patients reported adverse childhood events.

“If life sets you up on a path with a troubled childhood, you become increasingly marginalized,” Labby said.

Stress at an early age affects development of different parts of the brain, studies show.

To address these issues, Trauma Informed Care takes into account the history of patients. Educators and health care providers are taught to adjust their behavior to support the individual’s coping capacity, allowing survivors to manage their symptoms, benefit from services and participate in their own care.

Trauma Informed Care is designed to restore a sense of safety power and worth.

“The objective is to create a healthy, productive next generation of Oregonians,” Labby said.