Blogs
January 30, 2024

OhioRISE: Helping Kids With Complex Behavioral Health Needs Stay Connected to Family and Community

Marti Taylor, Vice President of Aetna and Chief Executive Officer of OhioRISE

Over my 37-year career in health care, I’ve learned that some skills and passions, like my love for nursing education, have continued to guide my work through many professional changes. I’ve never stopped appreciating the importance of helping people understand the “why” of what we do.

But I also have been fortunate to fulfill roles in many different areas, from caring for patients to teaching nurses to hospital administration — eventually serving as CEO of leading heart hospitals in Ohio, North Carolina and Georgia — then helping to establish an innovative addiction treatment facility in Dayton. And my newest job — as chief executive officer of OhioRISE, a groundbreaking initiative helping Ohio families coping with children who have severe and complex behavioral health needs — teaches me more every day about this critical field of family care and the need to better manage and support systems of care.

Ohioans have much to be proud of in OhioRISE. It was conceived to address several critical challenges in caring for children who need help from multiple systems. Among the most heartbreaking of these challenges was the number of children unable to live with their families or even in Ohio because their needs couldn’t be met in their communities. Some parents faced the wrenching choice of giving up custody of their children to the child welfare system because their children’s care exhausted their financial resources.

When Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Medicaid announced the OhioRISE concept in 2020, more than 40% of kids over 15 in the child welfare system lived in congregate settings. Out-of-state placements had tripled since 2016, with more than 140 Ohio kids at any given time living in treatment facilities in other states because what they needed wasn’t available here.

I came to OhioRISE after five years as president and chief executive officer of OneFifteen, a not-for-profit ecosystem in Dayton dedicated to the full and sustained recovery of adults suffering from addiction. I helped establish the organization and build out a 100-bed, tech-enabled treatment campus. By offering a full suite of services from crisis stabilization, social consultation and vocational training to therapy and peer support, we empowered patients to experience recovery while remaining connected to their communities.

After all my years as a hospital CEO, focused mainly on cardiovascular medicine, cancer, orthopedics — just about everything but behavioral health — I became intrigued. I dove into the hard work of moving the needle on addiction, an area where there’s not the large body of research, technology and evidence about what works that characterize other areas of medicine.

We treated more than 7,500 patients over three years.

Now, as CEO of OhioRISE, I am privileged with the opportunity to continue guiding the advancement of behavioral health care, this time in a pediatric population. I get to build on what OhioRISE has demonstrated thus far: that we will succeed with this population only through coordination. Our patients may be involved with the justice and child welfare systems along with public schools, mental health providers, addiction treatment services and many more. We know that none of those entities alone is going to solve the complex puzzle of a child’s needs. And the solution will not be exactly the same for any two children.

As the company contracted to implement OhioRISE, Aetna serves as the convenor of the best expertise Ohio has to offer, contracting with 18 regional Care Management Entities that ensure personalized case management for every patient.

As partners with the Ohio Department of Medicaid, we work to strike a balance between our contractual obligations and the need to evolve and innovate.

I have many goals for OhioRISE, starting with marketing the program so that any person who could steer a family in need our way — it could be a medical provider, schoolteacher, probation officer or many others — knows we’re here and understands the unique set of services we offer. We also will continue to explore additional needed services. Some Ohio kids still need to leave the state for treatment because we don’t have enough psychiatric residential treatment facilities — places that offer intensive inpatient care, but a step down from an acute hospital setting. I also hope to see more home-based therapies, including respite care for parents and other caregivers.

I am humbled and excited to lead this life-changing and lifesaving program. I look forward to working with and learning from clinicians, care managers, agencies, families and patients around Ohio, and I welcome the partnership of all who are dedicated to serving these children.

 

Marti Taylor is a vice president of Aetna and chief executive officer of OhioRISE. She has served as CEO of OneFifteen, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, and the Ohio State Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital and was associate vice president for cardiovascular services for the Duke University Health System. She is a graduate of the Capital University nursing program and is chair of the university’s board of trustees.