In a move that highlights collaboration across a health care system, three Care New England hospitals recently came together to pilot a service that is now being expanded to fill a need for mental health services in the entire region. After successfully piloting the concept at Women & Infants and Kent hospitals, Butler Hospital is expanding its Outpatient Psychiatric Consultation Program to all referring physicians in the area who may have a patient needing a consult.
The impetus for the program is the fact that a significant percentage of patients seen in medical and surgical offices today are suffering from psychiatric problems that require professional attention.
Unfortunately, getting an appointment for an evaluation in a psychiatrist's office can take months, and the region has a dearth of outpatient psychiatric services available to patients.
"This outpatient psychiatric consultation service is an attempt to explore a model that might begin to address these needs," says Michael Fiori, MD, one of the consulting physicians. "The hope is that this will enable patients who might not otherwise seek help for their emotional and psychiatric problems to be more comfortable getting treatment."
The program within CNE includes the services of Butler psychiatrists Dr. Fiori, and Dawn Picotte, MD. Dr. Fiori provides mental health consultations to females seeking advanced treatment for cancer, urogynecologic disorders and obstetrical concerns at Women & Infants.
"This is going to be a tremendous help for us as we see women experiencing the fear and anxiety associated with a cancer diagnosis and other psychiatric reactions to their treatment and any necessary surgery," adds Robert D. Legare, MD, director of the Breast Health Center in the Program in Women's Oncology. "It's a great support that's being made available not only to our patients but to us as their physicians."
Dr. Fiori's consultative services are available on site in each of the target service areas at Women & Infants one afternoon a week.
Dr. Picotte, who specializes in adolescent and child psychiatry, sees patients of all ages at Kent's Primary Medical Group of Warwick. She is at the Kent office for consultations two afternoons a month.
"This collaboration further speaks to meeting the needs of the patients here in our community. The opportunity to provide a greater array of clinical services across a broad spectrum of care is of critical importance for those who are in need," says Michael Dacey, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Kent.
Through the consultative service, patients see Drs. Fiori or Picotte for a one-time consultation. Evaluations and recommendations for treatment are sent to the referring physician within one day. Social workers also help secure the appropriate services for patients in the community, including outpatient services, day hospital and inpatient programs. The patients continue their ongoing treatment with their medical/surgical physicians.
Now, Butler offers Dr. Fiori's services to all referring physicians on its campus two afternoons a week. Also on the Butler campus, Sharon Shepard, MD, provides offer child and adolescent psychiatric consultations to all referring physicians.
"By getting patients in to see a psychiatrist, hopefully with minimal delay, and providing feedback to the medical/surgical doctors, the goal is to improve the medical and psychiatric care given to the patients," Dr. Fiori says. "The hope is that this will both ease suffering and be cost-efficient."
The pilot program demonstrates the strength in shared resources.
"The Outpatient Psychiatric Consultation Program is a prime example of how Care New England is a unified system of health care, with expertise from one member hospital being offered to patients of other facilities," notes Dennis Keefe, president and CEO. "Care New England members have a variety of service strengths and we plan to capitalize on that even further in the future to ensure that patients have access to the care they need when they need it most."
A physician referral is needed for a psychiatric consultation. To make one, physicians can call Butler's Outpatient Department at (401) 455-6436. There is also information available at butler.org/forphysicians/Consultative-Services.cfm.
About Care New England
Care New England, located in Rhode Island, was founded in 1996 by Butler Hospital, Kent Hospital and Women & Infants Hospital. The system includes primary care and specialty physicians; two teaching hospitals affiliated with Brown Medical School, Butler and Women & Infants; a community hospital, Kent, affiliated with University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine; a visiting nurse and home care agency, VNA of Care New England; and the Care New England Wellness Center.
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