Articles, Leading Stories

June 1st, 2017

Psychologist shortage: factors affect access to care

By Phyllis Hanlon

The Kaiser Family Foundation issued a report in January citing a significant shortage of mental health care practitioners nationwide. In New England, the “percent of need met” ranged from 34.26 percent in Connecticut to 61.17 percent in Rhode Island. According to regional psychologists, a variety of reasons, from an aging profession and inadequate training/education programs to low reimbursement rates and health plan disparities, may account for the shortage of licensed mental health providers. For states like Maine, geography and the number of licensed professionals pose a challenge, according to Carly Rodgers, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow and public education chair of the [More]

June 1st, 2017

Push for prescribing privileges fizzles in Vermont

By Janine Weisman

With the stroke of Gov. C. L. “Butch” Otter’s (R) pen on April 4, Idaho became the fifth U.S. state to permit clinical psychologists with advanced specialized training to prescribe medications to treat mental health disorders. So, expect to see continuing momentum for what the American Psychological Association maintains will improve access to mental health services, particularly in poorly-served areas. Just not this year in Vermont. A bill introduced in February in Vermont’s House of Representatives seeking to grant prescribing privileges for psychologist-doctorates with advanced training in psychopharmacology went nowhere after being referred to the Committee on Health Care. The [More]

June 1st, 2017

Vacant building in Westborough to become behavioral hospital

By Phyllis Hanlon

Later this year, Westborough will become the site of a new behavioral health care hospital. In April, selectmen in the town gave approval for the construction of a facility that will better serve the mental health care needs in Central Massachusetts. Francisco Torres, Westborough’s economic development coordinator, reported that Signature Healthcare, which is based in Corona, California, approached the town approximately a year ago with a proposal to renovate a long-vacant building at 300 Friberg Parkway. The property, which formerly housed Verizon and Bay State Gas prior to that, was originally intended to serve as a campus for the College [More]

June 1st, 2017

Lawsuits address segregation of mentally ill prisoners

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Concern over the use of solitary confinement for inmates who suffer from mental illness has propelled a spate of lawsuits over the past few years in the state of Vermont. In one case, settled last August, a prisoner known as Patient A was held in segregation for nearly seven months. The settlement included reforms to the system including the requirement to seek a hospital bed when needed, twice-daily mental health checks in prison and weekly psychiatric evaluation. The most recent case, which has also been filed by Disability Rights Vermont, accuses the state of holding a 34-year-old man, known as [More]

June 1st, 2017

Bill seeks to address gap in services for veterans

By Pamela Berard

Legislation introduced in Maine aims to help the state bridge a gap for mental health services for military veterans. “An Act Regarding Mental Health Care for Maine Veterans,” currently in the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, directs the Director of the Bureau of Maine Veterans’ Services within the Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management to station at each of the bureau’s field offices a social worker to provide direct mental health care to veterans, to coordinate mental health care for veterans and to work with the federal government and state and local mental health service providers to provide mental [More]

June 1st, 2017

Vermont moves to cover PTSD for first responders

By Janine Weisman

Legislation to provide workers compensation benefits for first responders who suffer from posttraumatic stress disorder in the line of duty has passed both the Vermont House of Representatives and Senate. Now awaiting Vermont Gov. Phil Scott’s signature as of New England Psychologist’s press deadline, the effort has made its way further than similar proposals that appear to have stalled this year in Connecticut and Florida. Vermont House Bill 197, introduced by Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford), deemed PTSD compensable under the state’s workers compensation act for police officers, firefighters, and rescue or ambulance workers diagnosed up to three years after retirement. [More]

June 1st, 2017

Office building to become new psychiatric hospital

By Phyllis Hanlon

In April, UMass Memorial Health Care partnered with US HealthVest to build a new 120-bed psychiatric hospital in the Burncoat section of Worcester. US HealthVest currently operates psychiatric hospitals in Georgia, Illinois and Washington State. The partnership between UMass Memorial and US HealthVest is the indirect result of an existing relationship. Richard A. Kresch, M.D., US HealthVest president and CEO, explained that he also directs CareWell Urgent Care Centers in Massachusetts, a joint venture with UMass Memorial. “We got to know each other that way. UMass expressed an interest in developing a psychiatric hospital,” he said. “We have been doing [More]

June 1st, 2017

Program connects veterans with resources

By Pamela Berard

A Military Liaison Initiative, said to be the first of its kind in the nation, helps connect New Hampshire veterans and military service members to the most appropriate mental health treatment and resources. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services Military Liaison Initiative (MLI), launched in August 2015 as part of a larger statewide effort, places a dedicated staff member to serve as a military liaison in each of the state’s 10 community mental health centers (CMHC), to better identify and guide veterans, military service members and their families to services. Additionally, the liaisons serve as a point [More]

June 1st, 2017

Agencies investigate Whiting Forensic Division

By Rivkela Brodsky

There are several ongoing investigations into allegations of patient abuse at the Whiting Forensic Division of Connecticut Valley Hospital, a public hospital in Middletown, Conn., for the treatment of people dealing with mental illness. Connecticut’s Department of Public Health, the Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, and the Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities are all investigating these allegations. All three departments will confirm the investigation but will not confirm or provide any other details – if and how many employees have been suspended, and how many patients are at the hospital, citing the ongoing investigation. [More]

June 1st, 2017

Interventions decrease post emergency room suicidal behavior

By Susan Gonsalves

Providing a range of interventions for suicidal patients beyond the standard care in emergency rooms lowered the risk of repeat attempts by 30 percent. That result came out of a large clinical trial led by Brown University and Butler Hospital psychologist Ivan Miller, Ph.D. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, involved 1,376 patients in eight hospital EDs who had a recent suicide attempt or ideation. The trial had three phases. The first group consisted of 497 people who received “treatment as usual,” in the emergency room from August 2010 to December 2011. The middle group was comprised of 377 individuals [More]

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