Leading Stories, Articles

June 12th, 2018

VT braces for loss of psychiatric bed Medicaid funding

By Janine Weisman

A special waiver exempts Vermont from a decades-old restriction prohibiting states from using Medicaid funds to cover services for non-elderly adults with mental health conditions in hospital settings with more than 16 beds. But Vermont’s waiver is set to expire starting in 2021 and phase out completely in 2025. That would leave the state on the hook for the $23 million in federal dollars being used to provide treatment for patients ages 21 to 64 at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH) in Berlin and Brattleboro Retreat, said Department of Mental Health (DMH) Commissioner Melissa Bailey. A proposal among an [More]

June 11th, 2018

Marketing is key to building practice but must be done with careful planning

By Catherine Robertson Souter

In today’s competitive world where everything from the pens floating around at the bottom of a laptop bag to the mugs sitting on the kitchen counter has a brand on it, most businesses prioritize a marketing plan. If a psychological practice is also a business, with rent to pay, staff to hire, and a “product” to sell, does it follow that psychologists should also consider instituting a marketing plan? The answer is, yes, but also…within certain parameters and with careful planning. There has long been some hesitation within mental health towards marketing, with the idea that, in order to “sell [More]

June 11th, 2018

Revenue to focus on increasing inpatient capacity

By Pamela Berard

The Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB) gave the go-ahead for the University of Vermont (UVM) Health Network to move forward on a project that would use the Network’s extra revenue from 2017 to increase inpatient mental health capacity in Vermont. The GMCB, established by the Vermont Legislature in 2011, is charged with reducing the rate of health care cost growth in Vermont while ensuring the state maintains a high-quality, accessible health care system. Vermont’s hospital budgets are regulated by the GMCB. When health care facilities exceed allowable budgeted net patient revenues, they are subject to review and possible regulatory action, [More]

June 8th, 2018

Maine Gov. LePage continues push for step-down unit in Bangor

By Janine Weisman

Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s effort to build a privately run 21-bed stepdown unit for Augusta’s Riverview Psychiatric Center on state land in Bangor has quietly resumed with a developer’s permit application filed with the Bangor Planning Board. Bangor Holdings LLC in Hermon submitted an application and site development plan on May 30 to build a one-story, 9,536 square foot secure forensic rehabilitation facility on State Hospital Drive on the grounds of the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center. Although the application sought a site review, Bangor Planning Officer David Gould said the proposed 2.32-acre site would need a conditional use permit [More]

May 16th, 2018

Brattleboro Retreat expands telepsychiatry services

By Pamela Berard

Following the successful launch of a pilot inpatient telepsychiatry program, the Brattleboro Retreat in Vermont has expanded its telepsychiatry services. In early 2017, a psychiatrist on the medical staff at the Retreat — a not-for-profit specialty psychiatric and addiction treatment hospital — moved out of state but wanted to stay involved. Brattleboro Retreat developed an inpatient model of telepsychiatry for the staffer to provide remote, real-time video consultation with patients. “It was very well received early on by patients as well as our staff and the physician involved,” said Mark McGee, M.D., chief medical officer. The Retreat has since hired [More]

May 14th, 2018

Mass. increases beds, facilities while other states remain stable

By Phyllis Hanlon

The psychiatric care landscape has shifted in recent years from an inpatient setting to community placement and back to in-hospital treatment. New England Psychologist surveyed the New England states to assess the current inpatient situation. Kathleen Remillard, public information officer (PIO) at New Hampshire’s Department of Health and Human Services, reported that the state has had no psychiatric unit closures in the past year. Rather, New Hampshire has gained 20 new transitional housing beds for patients recently released from New Hampshire Hospital or other designated receiving facilities. Vermont has also added 20 youth psychiatric beds; and four mobile crisis apartments [More]

May 13th, 2018

Psychologists weigh benefits, challenges of working in inpatient hospital settings

By Phyllis Hanlon

Psychologists today have opportunities to pursue several different professional career paths. New England Psychologist spoke to psychologists who practice in inpatient settings and found that this venue offers both rewards and challenges. Before retiring, Robert J. Kamman, Ph.D, of Raymond, Maine, spent 32 years working at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center in New York, where he conducted initial screenings on every admission and determined the necessity for assessments. His responsibilities also included administering tests, running group therapy sessions, collaborating with the art and music therapist, occasionally treating patients on an individual basis and frequently working with families. Throughout his career, the [More]

May 13th, 2018

Vermont searches for solutions to increase bed capacity

By Janine Weisman

The Vermont House of Representatives Committee on Health Care has already come out against funding a temporary 12-bed forensic unit at the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Gov. Phil Scott’s proposed fiscal 2019 state budget. But during the appropriation process in early April, Senate members appeared more receptive toward the facility proposed to alleviate the demand on emergency rooms and psychiatric facilities around the state. “That’s a showdown between the Senate and the House that we get caught in the middle of,” said Department of Mental Health (DMH) Commissioner Melissa Bailey. “They’ve got to figure out where they’re going to [More]

May 12th, 2018

Plymouth’s Child and Family Services re-design creates stir

By Susan Gonsalves

Earlier this year, there was an outcry when word got out that the Emergency Services Program (ESP) operated by Child and Family Services in Plymouth was about to change. Executive Director Anne Sampaio, LICSW, noted that people feared the closure of the current office space on Long Pond Road in June would mean that people in 10 communities would be left without `walk-in’ aid or have to travel to the New Bedford site for help. The program provides crisis intervention for a variety of mental health and substance use disorders. The services include facilitating a placement in a treatment facility, [More]

May 11th, 2018

New behavioral units designed to enhance care

By Pamela Berard

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, opened its new pediatric behavioral unit in early 2018 and is on track to open a new adult behavioral unit in 2019, as part of a three-year, $12 million improvement project. Project funding was partially funded through a capital campaign. Improvements include the relocation and remodeling of the pediatric and adult behavioral units, which will move to the main hospital; as well as renovations and expansion for the building supporting oncology, rheumatology, infusion, and other outpatient services. The new 13-bed pediatric behavioral unit provides specialized care for children and adolescents. It features [More]