News Article Details

Hospital honored for school mental health service

The Daily Star - 6/28/2019

Jun. 28--The U.S. Office of Rural Health Policy recognized Margaretville Hospital on June 25 for its mental health program that combines in-person psychotherapy and remote psychiatric care -- telepsychiatry -- in public schools, at no cost to the students, their families or the school districts.

Margaretville Hospital received the Critical Access Hospital Recognition certificate "for demonstrating innovation in the integration of behavioral or mental health initiatives," according to a media release by Westchester Medical Center Health Network, of which the hospital is a member.

The programs are supported by funding from the state and federal governments to improve the quality of care and quality of life in Delaware County, according to the release.

"Delaware County students needing mental health services for challenges such as anxiety, depression, adjustment to stressful experiences or attention deficit disorder were often put on long waiting lists or forced to travel long distances, sometimes more than 100 miles, for care," said Mark Pohar, executive director of Margaretville Hospital, in the release. "The hospital is proud to receive this honor for providing high-quality healthcare at no charge that is improving mental health and therefore the overall community's health."

The hospital's in-school program serves about 200 students in Delaware County from Andes, Downsville, Roxbury and Margaretville central schools. There's no office in the Andes school district because of its small size, but Andes students have the option to be seen at nearby Margaretville central school district, said Robbie Martin, the program's coordinator and a mental health clinician at Margaretville Hospital.

The program started in 2017 in the Roxbury school district, Martin said. Licensed mental health clinicians from the hospital offer assessments and psychotherapy in the schools at no charge. This helps reduce student absences by ensuring they don't have to miss school for appointments.

If the clinician identifies that a student might benefit from psychiatric medication, a psychiatric nurse practitioner at Margaretville Hospital evaluates the student, prescribes medications if appropriate and offers follow-up medication management, according to the release. Telepsychiatry, through WMCHN's eHealth program, is added to the student's treatment if need be. Students don't need to own the equipment necessary for telepsychiatry, said Martin. The technology is provided for free to students at the school centers.

Martin said the care team has seen some students doing better in school and having improved social relationships. She said she believes programs like these help reduce stigma around mental health.

"Why not interweave it in school programs across the country and make it something that's part of everyday language?" she said. "It's that respect and nonjudgmental stance."

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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(c)2019 The Daily Star (Oneonta, N.Y.)

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