TPN.Health Featured in Uptown Messenger

Originally published in Uptown Messenger by Tyree Worthy

Business Profile: TPN, a modern clinician referral platform

By: UptownMessenger.com

A New Orleans-based startup is working to match verified behavioral health treatment providers with patients who need their help. The Trusted Provider Network (TPN) platform is just that: an online network of licensed clinicians across the state, connecting their clients with specialists that would benefit them the most.

According to their website, “TPN offers a local community with a national reach to providers who meet the highest code of clinical services, ethics, and professional standards.”

TPN CEO Trevor Colhoun

CEO Trevor Colhoun, who has a background in capital markets and private equity, saw an opportunity with TPN to fix some of the issues faced when dealing with the behavioral health system.

“Two years ago, I started getting very fascinated with behavioral health. We had some family members go through different aspects of the behavioral health path,” Colhoun said. “It was awful to see the process and how it was occurring. On an advocacy and philanthropic side, we got involved.”

When Colhoun stumbled on TPN about two years ago, it was based in Georgia, with one of the co-founders living in New Orleans and running an intensive outpatient addiction center. After meeting and discussing the current system, the two decided to work together to reorganize the company, focus on clinicians, and build what providers need to be successful.

“Let’s focus and build for clinicians,” they thought, “and from there, we can build out all the tools in the behavioral health space to change and improve outcomes.”

With this in mind, TPN began to restructure on January 1st of this year, partnering with capital investors from New Orleans and medical programs like Tulane University. They aimed to start with the clinicians—those who connect and refer the best clinical fit for their clients.

Trusted Providers

The Trusted Provider Network platform helps behavioral specialists keep track of, and actively stay current with, the professionals they know or have worked with. While using the platform, verified licensed clinicians are able to make and accept referrals, connect with other clinicians, endorse colleagues, and browse relevant articles and topics in their own personal newsfeed.

The platform features profiles that may include a video, biography, photo, specialties and referral stats for each provider. Clinicians can sign up and create their own profiles. The data is used to inform other professionals about the work you do, not a resource based on data collection like some digital outlets.

“The data that people put on here is sacred—sacred to us, sacred to them,” Colhoun said. “The relationship that we’re creating here is, the customers are not the product like with Facebook or Google. Our product is the platform.”

This is for clinicians, by clinicians. These are behavioral healthcare providers who care about the successful treatment of their patients, clinicians who want results for their patients. For TPN, a clinician’s work is based on referrals and recommendations by people they know and are connected to. Everyone on the platform is a licensed professional, and their fields of expertise are listed and vetted.

Clinicians can build their own profiles and networks to better connect patients with other professionals.

A professional network online

Say a counselor has five to ten offline connections they refer to for most services. Some do this, and others do that, but there are limitations that arise. First, the network is small, and the counselor only has so many service options. Secondly, they need to know if and when their connections are taking new patients. The counselor or patient would have to get specialist on the phone or stop in to talk directly.

 

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TPN clinicians can build their endorsement network of people that they’ve used in the past. They can see people that they trust on TPN, and their endorsement networks as well. A counselor can look at a connection’s profile and send a confidential patient referral that both professionals can access anytime.

“The only people that are in this are professionals. They have a licensure by a state board governing body. They have an ethics standard they have to live by. If I’m giving someone else an endorsement, it’s powerful, so I’m putting my name out there.”

Tools for clinicians

This startup wants to grow from New Orleans roots and revolutionize behavioral healthcare through elevated clinical connections. Addressing and solving the problem in New Orleans and Louisiana would help TPN branch out into serving clinicians and patients in other cities and states.

This is a tool that will continue to build in order to increase outcomes for clients. “How you make this work is… if we don’t have integrity and trust, we don’t have a company,” Colhoun explained. “We don’t have the clinicians to come on and give and share their information and connect with other people.”

Plans for TPN extend far beyond the platform, starting with continued education events for credits nurse practitioners, doctors, and physicians need to maintain licensure.

They host professionals from around the region for events like their Mind Clinic on December 5, 2019. This featured presentations by Dr. José Calderón-Abbo, Board Certified in Addiction Medicine and Psychiatry and Certified in Mind-Body Medicine, and Dr. James Flowers, owner of J. Flowers Health Institute, and Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluations and Pain Management expert.

Colhoun added: “Every clinician or social worker, counselor or addiction counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist…They’re in this to improve people’s lives, and they do this because this is a passion work that they do and they do great work for.”

“For the family members who suffer from behavioral health, we want loved ones to get the fastest help possible, get to the recovery that they can have, so they can actually live and fulfill good lives.”

There’s space to grow a platform like this in New Orleans. There is room to build here, and opportunity to advance behavioral health and improve outcomes.

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Meet Rachel Hammond, MA, ATR, NCC, Clinical Outreach Liaison

TPN.Health welcomes Rachel Hammond, MA, ATR, NCC, to the team!

“We’re all part of this ecosystem, and I think it’s important to take care of those in the helping profession so we can support each other in the greater community.”

Rachel, a newly Registered Art Therapist, is actively seeking licensure as an LMHC/LPC. In the meantime, she is using her clinical orientation as well as an empathetic insight into the needs of her fellows to inform TPN.Health’s mission to support clinicians as they navigate behavioral health.

“The arts were something that I always knew.”

Rachel’s parents served as a vehicle for her access to the arts at an early age. Her father, a self-taught guitarist, and mother, whose has a background in the fine arts, filled her upbringing with artistic expression and creativity. Rachel was introduced to art therapy in high school, cultivating her interest in the field and ultimately her attendance at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA where she received her B.A. in Art Therapy.

Rachel Hammond Holding a small ceramic plate reading "ART SAVES LIVES"

“It was the first week of September — a beautiful, fall day in my last year of college at MU and I was given the news that my dad’s sister completed suicide. Within that same week my mother’s younger brother was diagnosed with Stage IV esophageal cancer… I found myself holding these two, complex elements of grief and loss leaving me with a lot of questions as I was finishing my degree in a helping profession.”

Rachel’s encounters with illness and loss have informed her creative processes as well as raised curiosity in the healing power of art therapy and counseling. In attending to this curiosity, she felt propelled to pursue a Masters degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Art Therapy at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA. She sought answers both personally, and professionally to better inform her work of serving individuals from a variety of experiences and backgrounds.

“Any role I’ve looked for in life revolved around a team for support and a space to bounce ideas. I think that it’s really important in the work that we do.”

Within the graduate program at Lesley University, Rachel experienced a real sense of interconnectedness with a human community, one where she and her fellows had the space to explore curiosities, co-create, and learn. It was this sense of interconnectedness with her community that grew her art-making processes.

“I’m a big ripper. I love to rip stuff up.”

Rachel can’t emphasize enough the value of engaging in the work herself as a member of the ATR community. Engagement in the work of art-making materialized for Rachel in a new way way when she explored her own experiences and biases in personal counseling sessions with an art therapist in Boston, MA.

As a vehicle to explore themes of identity, space, and healing, Rachel’s therapist presented her with an open-ended directive to create a portal to a a place that embodied a sense of space, openness, and peace — a place where she could transport in any moment.

Pilot Knob gazebo lookout

For Rachel, this space was back home in the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York on the Pilot Knob hike. She recalls a vivid memory of laying on the wooden floor of the gazebo lookout on Pilot Knob during the summertime. At that moment, she felt the sun on her skin and with it a sense of freedom and grace. So there on Pilat Knob was her portal to space — the place to which she physically returned every time she went home and, now, the place where she could find solace through visual representation.

“There’s this one hike when I go home — It’s called Pilot Knob — that I have to do. I don’t care If it’s snowing or raining. I don’t care what season it is.”

Rachel's art project depicting her portal of Pilot Knob

“I have permission to feel, to heal, and to create my own palette to guide me home.”

Today, Rachel’s representation of Pilot Knob hangs in her new home apartment in New Orleans, where she is forging pathways under the guidance of creative processes and cultivating supportive community in the spaces where she finds herself.

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Meet Christopher O’Shea, Co-Founder: In His Words

Manifesting the Vision of TPN.Health

Christopher O’Shea has been a life-long advocate for mental health. In 2008, upon his return from the Middle East where he worked with Doctors Without Borders, he was inspired to help returning veterans with mental health issues. Chris began working with his mentor Ann McCarthy, Doctor of Social Work. This work inspired the idea of going around the country to see what mental health treatment looked like.

Christopher made the decision to sell his New York company and dive completely into the behavioral health space. Over the next several years, he traveled the country visiting mental health and addiction treatment programs, meeting hundreds of licensed mental health professionals. He met Felicia Kleinpeter, a long-time dedicated mental health professional, who respected the other mental health professionals they met along the way and the process of making referrals for clinical fit.

Christopher witnessed Felicia working tirelessly to refer patients to the right therapist, psychiatrist, treatment program, etc. locally and nationally and was amazed at what a time-consuming process it was to find each patient just the right fit. Christopher’s passion for the collegiate recovery movement led to his collaboration with Felicia in support for the recovery program as it exists today on LSU’s campus. Likewise, upon attending a New Orleans fundraiser at Jeffery & Walton Goldrings home about mental health stigma, Christopher and Felicia were inspired in finding out the struggles happening in the City of New Orleans. Christopher committed to helping Felicia start and advise a peer-to-peer collegiate recovery program at Tulane University her alma mater.

One day Christopher had the good fortune to meet Jimmy Mooney. Upon getting to know one another, they found they had a similar view on the need for a national search engine to easily enable clinicians and behavioral health professionals to search for patient mental health and addiction services based on clinical fit. After much discussion and inspiration, Trusted Provider Network (TPN) was born.

Over the next three years, Christopher and Jimmy created a clinically searchable platform based on diagnosis to make it easy to find referrals based on clinical fit. We created an on-site vetting process, an eighteen-page clinical application designed by clinicians. The goal of TPN was to have a transparent clinical referral system for professionals. It became apparent that the clinical professionals were the gate-keepers of the behavioral health world.

“TPN is forming collaboration with licensed clinicians, educational institutions, local and national experts, as well as corporate wellness programs.” 

In 2018 Christopher met Trevor Colhoun at a recovery advocacy fundraiser. After becoming aware of one another’s passion for mental health wellness, Trevor reached out to Christopher as he was interested in discussing the existing TPN. Trevor Colhoun, not coming from the behavioral health space, brought a needed different perspective. The idea that Chris and Jimmy had always believed was that at the heart of all behavioral health, licensed mental health clinicians hold the line in the sand. Trevor believed in it so much that he partnered with Jimmy and Christopher to re-create Trusted Provider Network into TPN.Health.

TPN.Health has created the first step of many towards designing a clinical platform like no other. TPN is forming collaboration with licensed clinicians, educational institutions, local and national experts, as well as corporate wellness programs. The amount of excitement and support has prompted TPN to bring on Felicia Kleinpeter as our Director of Clinicians. TPN.Health is truly allowing and advocating licensed clinical direction to best serve patients. TPN is now headquartered in New Orleans where it is growing and promoting true clinical community.

Letter From a Client

On how human encounters with my therapist facilitated transformative work

“I found myself sitting differently in the chair across from Mal.”

In my first semester of college, I had an assignment to interview someone who was in a career path that I could see myself following. I chose my therapist — we’ll call her Mal. She was familiar and, by that point, woven into the fabric of my life. We’d been seeing each other for six years, most of my adolescence. Likewise, hers was a career path to which I felt connected — knew what questions to ask. She was also very easy to get ahold of on short notice.

So, the career interview commenced. As I prompted her with questions, she said something that resonated with me then and has resonated with me at different junctures since then,“Ultimately, when pursuing this field, keep in mind that the end result is to help people, not to pathologize them.”

In the end, hearing that did not move me toward becoming a licensed professional (I am not a clinician today, nor do I plan to become one). However, in my ear, it had the sparkle of, “Oh man, there’s more to this…” and rang on the edge of many “ahas!” to come later in living.

That statement put language to how I wanted to feel in her office and all the time, for that matter — helped, not pathologized. At the time, it was difficult to feel the difference between the two as I had always felt pathologized in the “patient’s chair.” It wasn’t really anyone or anything that put this on me but was simply the way that I felt for much of my life in and out of the therapist’s office.

I had always seen Mal with a family member in tow. In this way, therapy always felt like a family affair and a way to “keep me in check.” There was a point at the beginning of my time in college that I made the decision to begin seeing Mal on my own. It was around the time of the interview, I believe. It seemed to be the first step in finding out what was actually important to me and what my needs actually were — navigating autonomy, familial enmeshment, and the like.

Beginning to see Mal on my own provided the space to cultivate something I had been lacking and did not really know I needed — humane encounters. I spent my days in a seized-up reactionary state and had, to varying degrees, for most of my life. As a result, encounters with people served as the landscape where reacting and seizing up took place. At the point I decided to see Mal on my own, my ways of going from moment to moment were simply not working; fear, sadness, and disillusionment that were always in the background rose to the surface and became intolerable. Prompted by a need to feel differently in my body, I began to do the work to actually feel differently by building a box of tools that worked for me; finding things that actually worked was a first-time affair.

The underpinning of “what worked” was providing the permission for myself, in the micromovements of my day, to ask gentle questions and create space to bring in practices that would make way for me to see/ feel differently. This involved much experimentation. As I began to collect solutions from trying different modalities and bits of wisdom that I could put into practice, the toolbox began to form.

The result of using the toolbox was moving me from reactive states to more grounded states — a new kind of navigating the world. What I did not expect from touching those grounded states was the feeling of being connected, not only to myself, but to other people. In the midst of doing this work, I found myself sitting differently in the chair across from Mal.

There were moments where Mal would share her experience, humorous things, hard things, and inconsequential things. I noticed how I felt when I heard these. I felt, for once, not on the defense and sometimes even comforted. Perhaps, it was that I was hearing her differently, or perhaps she was sharing more. It may have been the combination of the two, but the result on my end was a sense of feeling connected to something that was safe rather than a threat. The sense was that it was safe to share and explore what was happening, rather than to chastise or have to change it. This was new to me.

Mal would also often ask questions — questions that did not necessarily have answers. It seemed to me that she was genuinely wondering and figuring things, as I was genuinely wondering and figuring things. Having always had the sense of answers being shoved down my throat, having the opportunity to wonder and not have answers was valuable. We were co-wondering. As I did more work on my own, the processing with Mal took the form of opportunities to ask questions and process with a fellow human.

What I remember from Mal’s office that is helpful today is having the space for moments of feeling human next to someone who could ask questions and share experiences just like I was doing. Likewise, having the person across from me also not know the answers gave me the sacred space to make sense of things in a way that was manageable in my mind, to form a sense of feeling whole inside myself. For me, that was the need at the time and still the need today. What I experienced with Mal informs how I interact with people today. This means cultivating opportunities where I can share my experience, listen to another’s experience, and be curious alongside someone.

“There will always be a need for this profession because people will continue to need human contact and support as this world becomes more disconnected. As people become more anxious and stressed, this is the one place they have to pay attention and contemplate.” — Mal

Kaffey profileIt is four years since my interview with Mal, and today I do the wordsome work for TPN.Health writing content, engaging on social media, and helping valuable conversations to happen. I am excited to be a turning wheel of an organization whose work is facilitating a space where clinicians can create encounters that breed actual solutions through clinical fit. This is work that will allow people to have encounters with clinicians that are humane and helpful in the long-term. Likewise, it is work that makes sense in the context of my personal experience, as having a set of meaningful encounters with my clinician informs how I am moving forward today.

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Meet Arthur Fort, TPN.Health Summer Intern: In His Words

Sharing his TPN.Health experience and lasting takeaways

Hello, I’m Arthur Fort. I’m an intern at TPN, and I’ve been working for TPN all summer. Trevor and my mother’s longtime friendship created this connection for me. Trevor offered me an internship over lunch at my boarding school Millbrook, where he is on the Board of Trustees, and I excitedly accepted. For most of the summer, I was working as an intern with two of my longtime friends who are New Orleans natives, and we had a wonderful time. They have now gone off to college.

I’ve had two summer jobs prior to TPN, one of which was hard labor cutting trees for twelve hours a day, which was incredibly grueling and exhausting, although I did become quite strong. My other job was working at Galitiores as the lowest man on the totem pole, cleaning the bathrooms, washing pots and pans, and my least favorite — power washing and degreasing those French Quarter trash cans. Being an Intern at TPN is an obvious step up from that and is a much more enjoyable job. I’ve learned a lot from working here just by being in the room and taking notes for meetings and what-not.

Arthur profile view sitting with 2 other TPN staff

Listening to Trevor, Chris, Felicia, and Gabrielle talk about different aspects and problems of TPN has shown me a lot about how working together is much more efficient than having one very gung-ho boss, and you resolve issues and see other perspectives much more quickly than if you were working individually. Another thing I learned from one of Trevor’s business partners and mentors, Richard, or Dick, is that business is not personal. If you are in some sort of altercation, they usually aren’t angered with you yourself but your position or role.

Christopher O’Shea, who I refer to as “the passion” behind TPN, has also taught me a lot about life in general. He is overall a very positive guy who has been to many places and experienced a lot of different things and situations. Although I consider myself a confident guy, Chris has taught me that I should never, NEVER not be confident. He has also shown me that there is humor in everything, and I’ve inferred that people should take themselves less seriously.

Arthur sitting with Trevor at TPN table

I’ve also learned a ton from Trevor just by listening to his business calls and talks about TPN’s future in so many different senses. His routine has also rubbed off on me in the sense that staying healthy will make your brain and body work better for you, and in turn you work more efficiently and deliver more. I’m jealous of Felicia because she always looks like she is having so much fun and enjoying herself even when she is working very hard.

I am almost done. I’ve got six more working days, and then I will begin my Junior year of high school. I feel that I have grown and matured a lot as an individual from my time at TPN, and I cannot wait to see how it transfers into my academic work ethic and career. I believe the way I compose myself when talking to my teachers and deans after my experiences at TPN will thoroughly impress them, and all of this will help me further my academic success.

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Meet Jimmy Mooney, Co-Founder and Director: In His Words

Sharing his experience, strength, and hope in the evolution of TPN.Health

In Jimmy’s words:

Why TPN, and how did we get to this point?

The concept of Trusted Provider Network began with a conversation about a common dilemma that we all face at some point: Where is the right place to refer a client? That simple question has consumed my life the last three and a half years. To understand why I’m so passionate about finding an answer, you have to understand my history in the field. You see, my experience in the addiction treatment field started when I was very young, before this field even existed.

For me it started in 1959 when I was nine years old. That was when both my mom and dad got sober. My dad was a well-respected physician in our small hometown of Statesboro, GA. My mom was trained as a nurse. The other side of their story is that they were both alcoholics and narcotic addicts. That was the family in which my brothers and I grew up.

In July of 1959, my world changed when my dad stood before the judge and was sentenced to two years hard labor in the state penitentiary for writing prescriptions to himself. The judge probated his sentence contingent on him going to Lexington, KY to the Federal Narcotics Prison (better known as the Narcotics Farm). This was where he found his recovery. When my dad returned home, my mom began attending 12-Step meetings, and that’s where she found her recovery. We became a family in recovery.

Jimmy talking with Trevor and Jeffrey Dupuis

There was no stigma with my dad or mom. They were proud to let people know that they were sober. They would speak publicly about their addiction and recovery at any opportunity. Because of this, my dad’s reputation as a sober physician grew. More and more people began to reach out to him for help.

Keep in mind that this was 1960. Back then, treatment for alcoholism was not universally available. At that time there were only a handful of treatment programs around the country, Chit Chat Farms (now Caron Foundation), Hazelden, High Watch Farm, and a few others. In most instances, if you were an alcoholic, you ended up in the state mental institution. In Georgia that was Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. Misdiagnosis of alcoholics as having a psychiatric disorder was common.

In the early 1960s, my dad began detoxing people out of his medical office. They would stay in the hotel a block away and spend the day in the AA room next door. He quickly realized that there needed to be more structure. That’s when he began to bring patients into our home.

In 1965, our home became a treatment center. I was fifteen at this time and our life as a family changed. All of a sudden, these strangers became family members. They would stay with us for four to six weeks, sometimes more. Sometimes I would come home from school and find that they had given my room to someone.

They moved the furniture out of the dining room, put three in beds, and turned it into the detox unit. Everyone called it the Chandelier Room because when they woke up, the first thing they saw was the chandelier in the center of the room. As my dad went through the process of figuring out the detox protocol, it was not unusual for people to experience DTs.

My memories include watching people having convulsions on the floor and experiencing hallucinations. Interesting times to say the least. But the thing that I remember the most was the love. Our home was a place where my parents would “love you until you could love yourself.” Even at that early age, I experienced the fellowship of recovery. It had a lasting impact on me.

It got to the point in the late 1960s that we had over twenty-five patients living in our home with my family. It was time for an actual treatment center. In 1971 they opened the doors of Willingway Hospital, the first free-standing addiction specialty hospital in the Southeast.

My dad passed away in 1983 and my mom in 2004. They both remained sober until their deaths.

I had my own struggle with addiction. Fortunately, I found my recovery and have maintained continuous sobriety for the last thirty-four years. I know first-hand the miracle of recovery when the right help is available.

My career in the treatment field began in 1980, when I went to work at Willingway. Over the years I worked my way up the ladder, and for over twenty years I served as CEO and had the opportunity to lead an amazing organization.

The main thing that my tenure at Willingway and my experience growing up instilled in me was an understanding and appreciation for the effectiveness of good, ethical treatment. TREATMENT WORKS, especially when you match the client to the right program.

Time and time again, we hear the horror stories of the bad players taking advantage of people in crisis: the body brokers, unethical billing, website hijacking, misrepresentation of services, just to name a few. There is the chronic problem of where to send someone — which program is the right clinical fit, and who can you trust? Even professionals in the mental health field many times are at a loss.

Pensive Jimmy with other TPN consultants

The field needed a solution.

In January of 2016, my partner Christopher O’Shea and I had a telephone conversation. We were discussing the difficulty that professionals have in placing clients in clinically appropriate programs. On that phone call, we said, “let’s put together a tool to help people identify providers that are a good clinical fit.” This was the conversation that created the idea of Trusted Provider Network.

We agreed to meet midway between Jekyll Island, GA, where I lived, and Baton Rouge, LA, where Christopher lived. In March of 2016, we met in Montgomery, AL. My education is Business Management with an emphasis in Information Systems. I understood that the basis for TPN would be a searchable database, so I created a rudimentary database. When I showed this to Christopher, we both knew that this was the platform on which to build TPN. When we left Montgomery, we left with a concept, a name (Trusted Provider Network or TPN), a tag line (“Connections You Can Trust”), and a new vision.

The evolution of Trusted Provider Network continued. We recognized that we needed a vetting process and reached out to amazing professionals to help create one. We decided that, in addition to addiction treatment, we would add mental health and psychiatric programs and interventionists to the network. We understood the critical piece that clinicians play in the continuum of care and made them clinically searchable by “reverse engineering” our subscriber database. We implemented auto-notifications when someone recommended a TPN provider. We created an amazing tool.

As we began to introduce TPN to colleagues in the field, the response was consistently positive. Everyone we spoke to confirmed that there needed to be a tool to help connect clients to the right provider. We began to build TPN with some of the most well respected programs and interventionists in the field.

TPN is now a New Orleans-based company. We have an amazing new partner, Trevor Colhoun, who has the same passion that Christopher and I have. We have built a great team. TPN has evolved into a state-of-the-art platform that puts the focus on building a true clinician community and fostering connections with appropriate providers.

As we launch the new platform, I sit here amazed at how far we have come since that first phone call in January of 2016.

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