Bethlyn Vergo Houlihan, M.S.W., M.P.H.

Project Director

Photograph of: Bethlyn Vergo Houlihan, Project Director

Bethlyn Vergo Houlihan acts as project director for the Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network to Advance Care for Children with Medical Complexity (CoIIN to Advance Care for CMC) project. She has returned to CISWH after a long hiatus, having worked under a former iteration of the group from 2000-2004. Bethlyn has published and presented widely and brings a passion for person- and family-centered partnership to her work. Her areas of expertise include project management, knowledge translation, consumer and community partnership, and addressing gaps in care through empowering people with complex disabilities, especially underrepresented and vulnerable groups. Her interests and expertise include developing and testing community interventions that address social determinants of health to improve healthcare access and quality of care, self-management, and health-related quality of life.

Bethlyn’s current role intersects elegantly with her prior work, which required national-level collaboration among multiple key stakeholders focused on healthcare delivery for another medically complex target population, adults with spinal cord injury. Prior to joining the CISWH team, Bethlyn worked for over 17 years at the BU School of Public Health on one of 14 large federal grants nationwide for research, education, and referral for the spinal cord injury community, most recently as co-director of dissemination and knowledge translation. She has developed/co-developed community-based empowerment interventions for self-management and directed several successful randomized trials demonstrating positive health and related outcomes for people who are wheelchair users, including a peer coaching phone intervention. At the start of her career, she worked as a case manager and personal care assistant for children and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities.

Bethlyn has served as a board member for the Greater Boston Chapter of the United Spinal Association, a peer-based organization, since 2004. She currently serves as co-chair for the MA Department of Public Health’s Health & Disability Partnership, which brings together state agencies and community nonprofits to address the healthcare access needs of people with disabilities throughout MA. She was recently a member of the Research Advisory Team for a PCORI-funded project led by Dr. Lisa Iezzoni using consumer-based quality measures to evaluate the effectiveness of a dual-eligible demonstration project in MA for people with disabilities.

Education

  • Master of Social Work, Boston University School of Social Work

  • Master of Public Health, Boston University School of Public Health

Moment of Pride

In 2017, Bethlyn was interviewed for the RehabCast podcast Episode 3 by the Archives of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation based on a feature article of positive findings for the My Care My Call peer health coach telephone intervention study, along with Sarah Skeels, co-developer/investigator.

Fast Fact

Bethlyn loves to dance with her husband and two children in their living room under the family disco ball.