Pine Rest Psychiatry Residency Program Is Improving Access to Mental Health Care

Pine Rest Psychiatry Residency Program Is Improving Access to Mental Health Care

In response to community leaders’ requests for improved access to mental health care, Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services Psychiatry Residency program is producing results to meet this critical community need in West Michigan. Pine Rest is now into the third year of its psychiatry residency program. With the nine interns who began their 4-year program in July 2016, plus eight each in 2015 and 2014, Pine Rest has 25 psychiatry residents actively involved in its educational environment and treatment programs.

Meeting Access Issues

The need for psychiatry is great both at Pine Rest and in the community. Both the public and private sectors struggle to meet the demand for psychiatric assessments and treatment for individuals that are in need of psychiatric care. Pine Rest receives hundreds of calls each month from people who need to see a psychiatrist and yet have to experience long waits. With the implementation and growth of the residency program Pine Rest is seeing a substantial decrease in patient wait times to see a psychiatrist and receive treatment.

“Because of the residency program, there has been a 50% reduction in patient wait times from two months to one month for adult psychiatry as well as an increase in the number of individuals that we can now see,” says Bob Nykamp, Pine Rest Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “While we recognize we are making tremendous progress in regards to reducing wait times, it is still unacceptable for an individual in crisis to wait an entire month for treatment. We are working hard to fix this,” added Nykamp. The increased ability to see and effectively treat patients in a shorter timeframe is making a significant impact on the quality of life for Pine Rest patients.

Previously, wait times for access to an outpatient adult psychiatry evaluation were up to 12 weeks resulting in significant personal suffering. The Pine Rest Residency Psychiatry Program is notably reducing those wait times and effectively helping people when they need it most.

“The advantage for our community is that access to care is expanding because of the residency program. Additionally, individuals seeking care will receive treatment in a closely monitored academic setting which is evidence-based,” says William Sanders, D.O., Pine Rest Psychiatry Residency Program Director. “The psychiatry resident presents the client’s case and treatment plan to the supervisor as the client listens. It helps ensure the client’s confidence in the treatment plan. We are building the type of residency program the community needs – one that will lead the residents to be kind and compassionate physicians as well as excited to stay in our community and practice here.”

In association with Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Pine Rest manages 200 inpatient psychiatric beds, including separate older adult and child and adolescent units. Many other organizations participate in this community collaborative, and share in the benefits realized by the community through this residency training program. Other organizations providing significant support to the program include Michigan State University – College of Human Medicine, the academic and research partner; and network180 where Pine Rest psychiatry residents have a 3-month rotation.

“As the program is continually evaluated, it is meeting all of its goals” says Mark Eastburg, Ph.D., Pine Rest President & CEO. “It is improving access to quality mental health care for our community, attracting young professionals to West Michigan, expanding Michigan State University – College of Human Medicine collaboration, and increasing numerous research opportunities.”

In the coming year, Pine Rest administrators expect to expand the program to 12 positions per year. This will improve treatment capabilities even more. In order to grow the program in this way, Pine Rest will need the assistance of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s to transfer bed licenses back to Pine Rest ownership. And the restructuring of the existing agreement between the two hospitals would provide even greater capacity to care for patients in dire need of treatment.

“The breadth of services offered at Pine Rest and in our thriving medical community provide an outstanding training experience that equips physicians to work in a variety of settings when they leave this program,” added Dr. Eastburg. “We are optimistic that many will choose to stay in our community.” Up to 60% of new physicians take jobs within 100 miles of their residency program site.

On the Horizon – Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship Inaugural Class To Start July 2017

As Pine Rest prepares for the next steps to improve access to care, they are getting ready to launch a new Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship.

The Pine Rest / Michigan State University – College of Human Medicine Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship is a 2-year program accepting three residents per class. The first class begins July 1, 2017. Applications are currently being accepted and interviews have begun.

Kelly Blankenship, D.O., a psychiatrist in the inpatient hospital’s Child & Adolescent Services is the Program Director for the Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Fellowship. “Our fellows will gain the knowledge, experience and training to prepare them to provide the highest level of psychiatric care, and most importantly, serve in a career in which they feel fulfilled,” says Blankenship.

Commitment to Community

With the commitment of Pine Rest Executives and Board of Directors, Pine Rest continues its dedication to provide exceptional behavioral health care to the community. As demand for more access to mental health care continues to grow, Pine Rest in coordination with its community partners plans to expand its educational programming at every level—from psychology internships through the psychiatry residency and fellowship programs.

An environment of learning improves care and improves outcomes for the community.

“There are so many opportunities to ask and answer important clinical questions related to mental health care. We feel from a stewardship perspective, we ought to be part of that inquiry that’s adding to the behavioral health care field and ultimately helping people and responding to community needs,” says Dr. Eastburg.

Pine Rest doctors hold decades of teaching experience and are not only great practitioners, but great educators as well. Pine Rest offers an immersive learning environment, with more clinical exposure, hands-on experience and greater involvement with patients, including residential, inpatient and outpatient care.

Pine Rest is unique in that in addition to the 200 inpatient hospital beds, it has 16 Michigan outpatient clinics, three partial hospitalization programs, and 239 residential beds and programming. In the in-patient hospital, Pine Rest staff members treat children, adolescents, adults and older adults. The partial hospitalization programs serve children, adolescents, adults, and women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders offering a full spectrum of learning opportunities for the psychiatry residents practicing at Pine Rest.





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