April 4, 2016
Cheyenne, WY—For the first time, Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC) is using skilled psychiatric nurse appointments to support patients of the hospital’s Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic who are in need of medication management guidance, education regarding their illness or inter-appointment review of changing non-acute symptoms.
The new service started on December 1, 2015. As of the end of February 2016, the two skilled psychiatric nurses, who have 39 years of psychiatric nursing experience between them, had assessed and worked alongside 123 patients.
The hospital’s Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic has four psychiatrists and seven licensed therapists, who are often scheduled to see patients several weeks in advance.
“Lack of immediate non-emergent access to a provider, due to the high level of local need, is one of the unfortunate challenges we are faced with, and without timely and appropriate care, what is not an emergent crisis can sometimes develop into just that,” said Sharon Pendlebury, LCSW, CRMC’s Behavioral Health Services administrator. “We want our patients to have access to timely care and review from our skilled medical team as and when they need it.”
Pendlebury said that two of the unit’s registered nurses, Ann Treadway and Dawn Salyards, wanted to do more, so “came up with a plan to implement skilled psychiatric nursing office visits, to better meet the needs of our patients.”
Now, when a patient calls with a need or concern, the patient can schedule an office visit, usually within one business day, to meet with one of the two skilled psychiatric nurses.
“Meeting one-on-one with someone is a much better way to assess how that person is doing and what we can to do help, right away,” said Heather Montross, LCSW, Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic manager.
During the office visit, the nurse can also consult with psychiatry or therapy as appropriate to ensure that the patient has access to appropriate, multidisciplinary support.
Out of the 128 patients who scheduled an appointment with one of the clinic’s skilled psychiatric nurses between December 1 and the end of February, only five missed their appointment.
“This speaks to the need for this service and to how much these nurses, in partnership with our psychiatry and therapy teams, are helping our patients to remain well, and confidently manage their illness through a collaborative process,” Montross said.