In-clinic mental health care serves community of Sturgis

In-clinic mental health care serves community of Sturgis

 

Most patients probably don’t expect to receive same-day, in-clinic care for mental health concerns during a primary care appointment. Clinical Social Worker Loree Siegfried, CSW-PJP, LCSW, and Director of Ambulatory Operations Morgan Newman, DNP, RN, want to change that.

Loree recently joined Regional Health Medical Clinic in Sturgis to assist patients who express mental health concerns during an appointment. The model of care is called Primary Care Mental Health Integration (PCMHI), and according to Morgan and Loree, it’s providing a much-needed resource for both providers and patients.

“We’re trying to reinforce that mental health is part of your overall well-being,” Morgan said. Loree, who was trained in PCMHI, added, “We’re providing a whole-person approach to health care. Up to 70 percent of people (who come to the doctor’s office) have some psycho-social component to their illness. It just makes sense to provide this service.”

With the patient’s consent, Loree joins the patient in the exam room when needed. “The goal is to make the patient comfortable and to normalize the situation,” she said. Loree provides brief, targeted assessments that focus on finding solutions. The provider joins Loree and the patient afterward so that everyone is informed. “Medications might need to change depending on the situation, so it’s very important for everyone to be on the same page.” Loree may follow up with a patient for up to six months after that initial meeting.

“We have more success with patients now as opposed to when we were sending them home with a referral,” said Morgan. She also said the process is helping providers, who up until now may have been carrying a burden since there is a lack of mental health care options in the community.

As a nurse practitioner with Emergency Department experience, Morgan knew when she started as Director of Ambulatory Operations last December that she wanted the clinic to take a proactive and comprehensive approach to health care. She hopes to help other clinics take similar steps. Down the road, she has a bigger goal of reaching even more patients through telehealth. “We serve a lot of rural people who have to drive long distances to get here. We need to meet people where they’re at.”

Loree said the most rewarding thing about her new role is simple: people like it. “It’s been really fun to work with providers and feel like you’re making a difference. Patients are saying ‘This is great, I feel so much better.’ They’re telling their providers they are satisfied with their care.”

Loree, a Boulder, CO, native who started her career working in adolescent group homes when she was 17, has worked in Philadelphia and Denver, but most recently in South Dakota as the Post-traumatic Stress Disorder Coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs. Morgan, a Spearfish native, has held several jobs throughout her nursing career, but she’s always called Sturgis Hospital her home. She celebrates her 15th anniversary with the hospital this year. Thank you to both providers for organizing excellent care for patients and families in Sturgis.

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