Catching up with Cohen Clinic Director Janet Covington

The Cohen Clinic at the University of Hawaii at Manoa has received a grant from the VA to help increase mental health services to military families on the Neighbor Islands.

Catching up with Cohen Clinic Director Janet Covington

The national nonprofit Cohen Veterans Network has expanded its mental health services in Mililani for veterans and their families -- with the support of local nonprofit Child & Family Service which oversees it operations.

Janet Covington is a military spouse who joined Child & Family Service in June 2020 as the clinic's lead licensed clinician. She also helped to open the clinic in September that same year. She has more than 25 years' managerial experience in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Covington spoke to Pacific Business News regarding the most recent Veterans Affairs grant that will allow the center to expand its mental health services for military families in the Neighbor Island, among other areas.

What is your current biggest challenge at the clinic and what is the biggest opportunity to have the biggest impact on the future? The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Child & Family Service was created to remove barriers in mental health care and fill gaps for the entire Hawaii military community. The need for mental health care in Hawaii is greater than what providers are available to treat service members, veterans, and their families. Our clinic's biggest challenge is access to mental health services in the Islands. Every day, our team works with community providers and the Department of Veterans Affairs across the state. Our clinic will continue to grow as we connect with resources and increase our impact on the military population.

This grant is a part of a 3-year program which allows our clinic's outreach to veterans and their families on the Neighbor Island to be increased. It is the goal to provide case management, training, and services in order to prevent veteran suicides. This funding allows our team to reach out to more of our service members who may be struggling in silence.

How are you funding the clinic and how have you diversified your funding this year. Steven A. Cohen, a financier and philanthropist who has committed $275 million to the Cohen Clinic at Child & Family Service. Our clinic, with Child & Family Service operating as our partner, is part of Cohen Veterans Network - an integrated network of mental health clinics in the U.S. Diverse revenue streams supplement Mr. Cohen’s support. We have been working with grant organizations such as the VA SSG Fox Grant to prevent veteran suicides in Hawaii for the past year.

Accepting insurance is a great way to increase our expenses. Insurance reimbursements only cover a small portion of the costs of a clinic session. The balance is funded by Mr. Cohen. Insurance reimbursements still contribute to our bottom line.

What is your hiring and retention strategy? Do you have any open positions for which you are currently recruiting? We've taken a cue from our parent company, Child & Family Service. Finding people who fit with the culture of the organisation is a priority. We want to make sure that everyone we interview and welcome in our organization embraces the core values of HOPE, which are humility, ownership and perseverance. We want to ensure that a candidate is not only able to stand by our core values but also has a good fit with the culture of our organization. Our Cohen Clinic is unique in that all of our employees are veterans, military spouses or military children. We are military people, so we understand the culture.

We care for our employees as part of our retention strategy. Our employees' needs are important to us, so we must be flexible. This may include military service for our reservists, or patience with a coworker who is caring for a sick family member. We strive to create a culture where employees feel valued. We welcome new members to our ohana.

In September 2020, our clinic opened its doors with only two clinicians. We have 11 clinicians, including one lead clinician. However, we are confident that adding four more clinicians to our team will allow us to better serve veterans and their families.

Our building is almost at capacity with [that] expansion. We are working closely together with CVN on how to expand the facility in order to better serve our staff and our clients. We have explored ways to offer behavioral health services on Guam and American Samoa.

The immediate plan for our growth is to increase our presence in the Neighbor Island. We're using funding from the VA Fox Grant to actively look for ways to increase visibility and training opportunities on Neighbor Island. [Including] suicide prevention training across the state, as well screening veterans for case management services provided through the grant.

Contact the clinic at:

Phone: 808-204-4020

Hours of Operation:

Mon.-Thurs., 8 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Fri., 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.