Meet Chris Holcomb, assistant vice president of Behavioral Health at Baptist Health
Family: Married with two daughters, one dog and two cats.
Hobbies: Traveling and being outdoors.
Favorite book: “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankel. The book is inspirational and highlights the value of meaning and purpose in one’s life.
Favorite vacation spot: Hawaii
College attended, degree: Bachelor of Social Work, Eastern Kentucky University; Master of Social Work, University of Louisville; and Master of Administration, Union College
Medical News: First, congratulations on being named Community Star by the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health! What does this recognition mean to you?
Chris Holcomb: It reflects a vision that my colleagues and I had to improve access points of care in our rural areas. I am so appreciative and humbled by the award. It is such a wonderful honor to be able to represent the state of Kentucky!
MN: You were instrumental in planning and development of a telehealth program that provides services to seven counties in southeast Kentucky. Tell us a little about the program.
CH: The program was initially started to offer behavioral health services to rural areas. The focus was on treating depression, anxiety and addiction. Since our launch in 2015, we started with five locations and have now expanded to approximately twenty spanning three regions in the state.
MN: Prior to COVID-19, were you seeing success in improving rural health access because of the program?
CH: Absolutely, customers rated the service very high based on surveys because it helped to preserve resources. In addition, our treatment compliance rates were approximately 30 percent better when compared to in-person visits.
MN: How have things changed with the program with the COVID-19 crisis?
CH: We were fortunate to already be familiar with telehealth services, so we did not have the challenge of inventing the wheel. We were able to quickly expand our behavioral health virtual care clinic to all Baptist Health hospitals and clinics to provide another treatment option. Virtual care treatment seemed to be pushed to the forefront overnight as the preferred method of treatment.
MN: How did you begin your career in healthcare? What has your path been like?
CH: While going through undergraduate school, I worked as a “Big Brother” with disadvantaged youth. It was an eye-opening experience that reinforced my desire to work in the field. Upon graduation, I have worked in various capacities with the last twenty years in a healthcare setting. Each step along the way has been rewarding and enjoyable.
MN: Who do you look to as a mentor? What qualities do they have that have helped you in your career?
CH: I have been blessed to have had many positive influences in my life, but a former supervisor named Mike Phelps from Somerset is the first person I think of. He taught me the importance of teamwork and the value of placing people in the right position so they can best utilize their strengths.
MN: What advice would you give to someone interested in a career in your field?
CH: In whatever you do, be passionate and sincere.
MN: What is your most significant accomplishment?
CH: To be surrounded by amazing friends and family.