Dr. Fredrick

Dr. Noreen Fredrick, Vice President, Ambulatory and Community Behavioral Health Services, UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, talks about the many options available to patients for those in need of mental health services.

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Read The Full Podcast Transcript

– [Host] This podcast is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not medical care or advice. Clinicians should rely on their own medical judgments when advising their patients. Patients in need of medical care should consult their personal care provider.

– Outpatient and community-based programs for those in need of mental health services: Welcome to the UPMC HealthBeat Podcast. I’m Tonia Caruso, and joining us right now is Noreen Fredrick. She’s the vice president of Ambulatory and Community Behavioral Health Services for UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital. Thanks so much for joining us.

– Thank you for having me. I’m really glad to have the opportunity to spend time with you this afternoon.

– There are so many facets to UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, and really, services now may be more critical than ever before.

– That’s right. So, when we think of Western Psychiatric Hospital, sometimes people only think of the hospital itself, but we have such a large array of services that sit in the community, that span not only Allegheny County, but all the way up through Erie County, and out as far as Blair County, toward Harrisburg. Our footprint in the community for behavioral health services is really quite large.

– Can you talk in general about the importance of outpatient and community-based services when it comes to care?

– Sure. We want to make sure that we are treating people and helping people when they need it with the right care at the right time, and we want to make sure that we’re offering people care early enough in the outpatient setting, and then provide them increased levels of care as their situation warrants. So, it’s really important that we start in the community, just like you would start with your primary care doctor. You would go and have an appointment and an evaluation and then adjust the dosage of care as you need it. And that’s what we’re trying to accomplish. We provide a huge variety of care. We have traditional outpatient, and we have more intense levels of care, including intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, and we have a large array of mobile services, from case management, to family-based, to school-based. In fact, about 34% of our services are mobile services happening in the community now. We have about 500 staff members who are providing mobile services out of the 1,400 staff members that we have providing general psychiatric care in our Western Behavioral Health service line.

– And can you talk about some of the conditions that they can help patients with?

– Sure. We treat all conditions. Typically what will happen is someone comes in for an evaluation and we determine what their current need is. So we will take care of anyone who has depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, all the way through more chronic conditions like schizophrenia, psychotic disorders, bipolar, obsessive compulsive. We treat the whole range of population from early childhood through seniors. We provide on-site services, as well as mobile services and residential services. So really, the sky’s the limit in terms of what we treat. If you feel like you have a problem that’s bothering you, then we want you to come in and be evaluated and receive care.

– And so, can you give us a little bit more sense of what these mobile services look like?

– Sure. So our mobile services, again, run the gamut of youth-based, child-delivered services, all the way through adults. So, for example, our child services, many of them operate within the schools, and during this pandemic, we’ve pivoted pretty quickly to continue to provide services to children and families in their home. For our adults, we look at intensive case management. We’re helping people stay connected to services, get what they need, link them, and provide everyday support for those individuals. In addition to supported employment opportunities and what we call psychiatric rehabilitation, where we’re teaching and supporting people with coping skills and practicing those skills.

– And you mentioned COVID, and that leads us nicely into our next line of questioning. I guess first, have you seen an increase of need due to COVID-19?

– We’ve had a pretty steady state in terms of people coming to us for need. We’ve never closed during the pandemic. We’ve been available and open for service, and we’ve seen a steady stream of referrals come in with needs that are very different. And it’s been really interesting because we’ve again pivoted from face-to-face to video and telephone visits, and now we’re moving back to a combination of video visits, telephone, or face-to-face, whatever that particular individual needs.

– And everything you do really is individualized care, so depending upon a family situation, in some cases, video visits might be great. In other cases, you would prefer to see people in person.

– That’s right. That’s right. So it really is based on the individual’s need at the particular time and what they have available to them in terms of resources. So while we think video visits is the answer to access, not everyone that we serve has a telephone, or a smartphone, or a computer, or has the technical skill to be able to use it, so we really have to meet people where they are and support them in what it is that they need. And that’s been a little bit of a challenge during the pandemic, but we’ve really learned a lot in how we want to manage, and we’ve been able to take care of people in a very safe, and compassionate, and efficient way.

– And can you talk about some of the specific safety precautions in place across the board for outpatient and community-based services?

– Sure. So, we are doing daily screenings of all of our staff. Every morning, they screen before they come in to work. We also screen the patients that we see prior to the visit and when they come in. We are practicing universal precautions, we’re masking, we’re practicing hand hygiene, we’re maintaining physical distance of 6 feet. We’ve outfitted our clinics with our placards that remind people where to stand. We’ve created space in our waiting rooms, and we’ve been very sensitive to staggering schedules so that we don’t have people stacked up in a waiting room.

– Right. And what do you want to say to people about seeking help if they think that they need it?

– Well, what I want to say is please call us. Please reach out. We’re here to help. We’ve never closed our services, and we’re open for business as usual. If you feel that you need an appointment, and if you’re an adult, please call 412-624-2000. If you’re looking for child services, please call 412-235-5444. We’re here to help you, and we really want to be able to support you and your family. And during this pandemic, I think it’s created a series of challenges for people with increased isolation and managing through that, so it really is important to reach out if you feel you need help.

– Well, some great information. We thank you so much for coming in and spending time with us today. We really appreciate it.

– Oh, you’re so welcome. Thank you.

– And I’m Tonia Caruso. Thank you for joining us. This is UPMC HealthBeat.

About UPMC Western Behavioral Health

UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital is a nationally recognized leader in mental health clinical care, research, and education. It is one of the nation’s foremost university-based psychiatric care facilities through its integration with the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. UPMC Western Psychiatric is the hub of UPMC Western Behavioral Health, a network of nearly 60 community-based programs providing specialized mental health and addiction care for children, adolescents, adults, and seniors throughout western Pennsylvania.