BronxCare’s Department of Psychiatry is enhancing Emotional Health and Wellness. Under the leadership of Dr. Ketki Shah, Chairman, Psychiatry, it offers comprehensive care for mental health and chemical dependence for adults, adolescents, and children. “We are a widely recognized leader in the provision of community mental health services, and our staff is especially proud of this distinction,” stated Dr. Shah.
At the Inpatient level, there are three Adult Units and one Child and Adolescent Unit. As part of the treatment process, multidisciplinary teams work on the inpatient units, as well as with BronxCare’s outpatient practices to ensure safe transitions and continuity of care. The recovery process can be lengthy and requires post-discharge outpatient care. “We utilize a variety of modalities including individual and group therapy, in addition to antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and other medications to achieve positive outcomes,” stated Dr. Panagiota Korenis, Vice Chairman/Director of Education, Psychiatry.
The unique emotional problems of children are also being addressed on the Child & Adolescent unit. “While many mental health conditions in children can be treated on an outpatient basis, there are some that need the more extensive care we provide during their inpatient stay,” stated Dr. Arturo Sanchez-Lacay, Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
A Consultation Liaison Service is working with physicians on BronxCare’s medical units to manage patients having behavioral and co-occurring medical illnesses. “There is a strong relationship between positive mental health and speedier medical recovery. We work with our physician colleagues to help patients whose medical conditions may be affecting their emotional health,” stated Dr. Vicente Liz, Vice Chairman/ Director, Psychosomatic Medicine, Psychiatry.
BronxCare’s Psychiatric Social Workers are making an important difference as well. “We counsel and work closely with patients and their families to achieve the best possible results for them,” stated Leslie Lind, Director, Psychiatric Social Work. Utilization of Peer Specialists, Care Coordination Services, and Community Health Workers have further enhanced the patient experience and improved mental health service delivery, offering the potential for reduced length of stay and prevention of hospital readmissions. Peer Specialists also promote recovery by supplementing treatment through education, empowerment, and assistance in system navigation.
BronxCare is now the only hospital in New York City and one of five in New York State to receive a Zero Suicide grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in collaboration with the New York State Office of Mental Health. “This grant is enabling us to reduce high suicide incidence rates with intensified assessment, prevention, and monitoring,” stated Dr. Ali Khadivi, PhD, Chief Psychologist/Associate Chair for Clinical Care, Evaluation, and Research.
At the outpatient level, more than 200,000 visits are provided. There are two Adult Psychiatry practices and a Child Study Outpatient Center. Comprehensive outpatient services provided include psychiatric evaluations and psychopharmacological interventions, as well as individual, group, and family therapy. “Our expert and dedicated team of Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Nurses, Social Workers, Creative Art Therapists, and other staff are achieving many patient successes, a source of pride to us,” stated Andreas Evdokas, Administrative Director, Psychiatry.
A Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) is also responding to more than 7,000 psychiatric emergencies annually, and a Mobile Crisis Team visits patients in their homes and collaborates with community partners in offering emergency interventions, when necessary, for those in crisis.
For individuals with chemical dependency problems, BronxCare’s Life Recovery Center is one of the few facilities in New York State to combine inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment programs at one location. The Life Recovery Center includes 20 detoxification and 25 rehabilitation beds in addition to outpatient programs. “We provide Medication-assisted treatment, individual and group counseling, and patient education programs, in addition to a Community Residence within the Life Recovery Center that offers our patients a stable living environment during their recovery,” stated Demetria Nelson, Administrative Director, Addiction/Treatment Services.
The Department of Psychiatry is also responding to the Opioid Crisis with expanded addiction-related services that target at-risk individuals. Its Opioid Treatment program, in conjunction with the Department of Family Medicine, is providing a full range of options.
Another key initiative of the Department of Psychiatry is Collaborative Care, an integrated behavioral health model that has become the gold standard for treating depression. It is linked to better medical outcomes for patients with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and chronic arthritis pain, with the added benefit of potentially avoiding the need for referrals to more intensive and specialized psychiatric care. This initiative is a collaborative effort with the Department of Family Medicine and Department of Medicine.
Managing mental health through Pet Therapy is proving to be yet another effective treatment approach for the BronxCare Team. “Our Pet Therapy dogs, which we take with us to the inpatient units and outpatient areas, are helping calm patients, relieve their anxiety, and lift their spirits,” stated Mickie Hoffman, Director, Integrative Therapies.
Advanced and innovative treatment modalities are also being integrated into current practices. Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation will soon be utilized in treating depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and other psychiatric conditions. Additionally, the incorporation of Telehealth is expanding mental health services throughout the community.
Academically, the Department of Psychiatry has a number of internationally recognized leaders and teachers in the field. The educational experience includes an Adult Psychiatry Residency Program and three fellowships: Consultation Liaison, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and Addiction Psychiatry. Residents and fellows have published in peer reviewed journals, presented at national and international conferences, and are the recipients of numerous awards. Opportunities for medical students in their third and fourth year clerkships, as well as Observerships, are also offered.
“We have succeeded in enhancing the patient experience by improving access to mental health care and embracing advances in treatment and technology to make a real difference for our patients and reinforce BronxCare’s leadership role in the mental health field.”