3 Things I Learned by Volunteering at SouthLight as a Board Member
SouthLight Board of Directors member, Kim Labow, learns how addiction and mental health often collide to impact lives.
Kim Labow is one of 13 community leaders who volunteer at SouthLight as a member of their board of directors. As a board member at the not-for-profit provider, she attends quarterly board meetings, participates in a board committee, and takes part in SouthLight events and activities.
Kim has an extensive background in leading healthcare technology companies. While she knows healthcare, the world of behavioral health—which includes both substance use and mental health—was new to her.
Kim shares that when she found out that a friend was sick because of substance use, she learned a lot about addiction, but she still had many unanswered questions. When she had the opportunity to join the SouthLight Board of Directors, she thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more about how addiction and mental health often collide to impact lives.
The pandemic has given many people a greater appreciation of how behavioral health and physical health must be addressed together if we want to stabilize and improve people’s well-being.Adam Hartzell, CEO of SouthLight
Becoming a Behavioral Health Advocate in the Raleigh, NC Community
As she develops her knowledge, Kim has become an advocate to help more people get the support they need.
We asked Kim to share the biggest takeaways she has learned so far as a board member at a community organization where more than 50% of those served have no health care coverage. And, we asked SouthLight CEO, Adam Hartzell, to respond with additional insights.
Takeaway #1: Support & access for behavioral health is lacking.
Kim: First, I’ve learned how little support mental/behavioral health has from ‘general healthcare’ insurance and programs. I have worked in healthcare for 26 years and just assumed that from a coverage perspective there would be more support for behavioral, and not just physical health and wellness.
Adam: We have learned a lot about mental health and substance use in the last twenty years, but access to service still falls short of need. The pandemic has given many people a greater appreciation of how behavioral health and physical health must be addressed together if we want to stabilize and improve people’s well-being. This more comprehensive view and a whole-person approach require a greater commitment upfront, but the improvements to the quality of life and wellness for those that are helped are significant.
I was surprised at how hard organizations like SouthLight have to fight for funding and grants.Kim Labow, member of SouthLight Board of Directors
Takeaway #2: Funding for behavioral health is a challenge.
Kim: Second, I was surprised at how hard organizations like SouthLight have to fight for funding, grants, etc. The lack of government-based assistance and services and the amount of work you all have to do to pitch to corporations and private donors were also surprising.
Adam: There are still many people in our community that do not receive life-saving treatment and services because they do not have health insurance. At SouthLight alone, we estimate that nearly 1,000 people we currently serve would qualify for Medicaid if North Carolina finally expanded the program. And, while that would help, Medicaid reimbursement rates to organizations like SouthLight have not been increased in North Carolina in more than a decade despite nurse pay, counselor salaries, and medical costs going up significantly.
I’ve also learned the value of integrated programs and how they can work together to help people across the entire spectrum of behavioral health issues.Kim Labow
Takeaway #3: Providing integrated programs to meet behavioral health needs is important.
Kim: Third, I’ve also learned the value of integrated programs and how they can work together to help people across the entire spectrum of behavioral health issues. For example, SouthLight has programs for substance abuse at the courthouse plus the clinics and the residential services. I’ve learned that to be most effective, you need multiple services to work together.
Adam: When someone is ready to reach out for help, it is important they get connected quickly to the right service for them. At SouthLight, we work hard to provide an array of comprehensive services that meet people where they are on their journey. People’s needs change over time—at some points requiring intensive interaction with counselors and medical staff, and at other times simply needing a little extra support and encouragement. We have a relationship with those who come to us, sometimes over many years, and we seek ways to meet their needs in the moment.
Meet the SouthLight Board of Directors, and read about SouthLight board member Maria Spaulding’s experience with mental health.
Kimberly Labow has over 25 years of experience in healthcare technology and is currently CEO of Impathiq, Inc., a healthcare clinical decision support technology company. Prior to joining Impathiq, Ms. Labow was CEO of patient experience platform company Medfusion, which successfully exited to NextGen in December 2019. In addition to Medfusion, Ms. Labow has held executive positions at ZirMed (now Waystar), NaviNet (now NantHealth), and Performix Technologies (now NICE). Ms. Labow earned a B.A. from Colby College and an M.B.A. from Northeastern University.
About SouthLight Healthcare:
Founded in 1970, SouthLight Healthcare is one of the area’s largest nonprofit providers of substance use treatment and mental health services. SouthLight partners with individuals and communities to provide innovative treatment solutions delivered with compassion and dignity. With outpatient and community-based programs, SouthLight provides prevention, education, and treatment services in the Triangle and beyond. Call 919-787-6131 for help or more information or visit www.southlight.org.