More Child Psychiatry Added in Fluvanna, Greene Counties

Report from Robert Johnson to IMPACT 9th Annual Assembly, 10/27/14

Region Ten has been moving forward with our plan to increase our child psychiatry hours availability to 40 per week. Our strategies have been to increase our overall child psychiatry hours through tele-psychiatry contracts and to hire a part-time child psychiatrist.

We have been able to increase our available hours in Greene County through tele-psychiatry by four hours. We also have a pending contract to get three additional hours in Fluvanna. Once the contract is signed we will purchase the equipment and move forward to assure that more youth in Fluvanna have access to psychiatric medication management in our Palmyra office. We approximate that 100 additional kids will be able to be served annually with the additional Fluvanna and Greene telepsychiatry hours. We hope to have our child psychiatry services in Fluvanna begin by the first of next year.

We are also planning to replace our current twelve hour per week contract with UVA psychiatry with a part-time child psychiatrist that works about 30 hours per week. We are currently exploring a partnership with a neighboring Community Services Board to see if we could share a full-time doctor which we believe will be easier to recruit and hire. Our hope is to have a new doctor on board by the summer of 2015.

Child psychiatry remains a gap in our community with a current wait time of one to six weeks at Region Ten. This is a service gap that is not just local but statewide and we appreciate your support in addressing this need for our local children and families.

Child Psychiatry: Post-Action Progress

Since the Nehemiah Action, the IMPACT mental health committee responded to Robert Johnson’s commitment at the Nehemiah Action. We asked for clarity and an outline of their approach, since his response was so in-depth. We have since heard back from Mr. Johnson, and has has outlined their plan for us. You can read the letter for yourself here: Region Ten’s Plan.

The committee will be meeting with Region Ten again in August to get an update on what from this plan has truly been executed. In addition, Mr, Johnson will be giving a report to the justice ministry network at the Annual Assembly in October.

8th Annual Nehemiah Action

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The content of this post is taken from the Daily Progress coverage of the Nehemiah Action.

Maybe they aren’t changing the world, but a yearlong effort by members of a local interfaith and cross-denomination organization is changing Central Virginia.

Efforts by the Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregations Together — IMPACT — led to Region Ten plans to double the number of hours available for children’s mental health; more funding of homeless prevention programs; better communication and cohesion among homeless service providers; and an effort by the University of Virginia Health System to train local youth for entry-level medical positions.

A thousand or more community faithful from Christian, Jewish and Islamic congregations met Monday evening at John Paul Jones Arena for the eighth annual Nehemiah Action assembly to hear from agencies tasked with implementing the organization’s goals.

The goals were set at an October meeting of the organization.

“Our primary motive is faith, not civic duty,” said Bob Bayer, of Westminster Presbyterian Church and IMPACT’s co-president. “We are not a political movement, although we acknowledge that there is a political component to almost of the injustices we hope to address.”

The assembly was called to report the results of IMPACT’s efforts at addressing social and economic injustice, from unemployment among youth to the lack of mental health care for youth. Members of the organization met to discuss proposals and spent the past six months, and longer in some cases, working with local officials.

IMPACT committee members reported strides made in serving the region’s homeless families and in preventing those with emergency needs from becoming homeless. They noted that the organization’s efforts helped bring service providers together and make an additional $250,000 available via grants.

Perhaps the big win was a commitment by Region Ten, the agency that provides mental health services for Central Virginia, to hire a part-time child psychiatrist and expand the number of treatment hours available.

IMPACT officials noted that Region Ten, funded by state money and Medicaid, had only enough child psychiatrists and psychologists available to provide 15 hours a week, from 9 a.m. to noon Fridays. That left hundreds of children without care.

“For a community with the abundance of resources this community has, this patched together program is not enough,” said Sheila Herlihy, of Church of the Incarnation Catholic Church, who served on the group’s mental health committee.

Robert Johnson, executive director of Region Ten, said he and his staff agreed.

“We believe we have developed a plan, a basic strategy to expand telepsychiatric contacts and secure a part-time child psychiatrist, which would bring us to 40 hours a week of service,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Region Ten had found grants and money available to expand telepsychiatry into Nelson and Greene counties as well as hire the part-timer.

Although the televised service should be available in both counties by the end of the year, finding a part-time psychiatrist will be more difficult, he said. He expects someone to be hired by next summer.

Impact committee members studying youth employment had asked UVa Health System to start a pilot program of tuition waivers for 30 students to train in entry-level medical positions. They estimated the cost to be $90,000.

UVa officials agreed to look into grants that would create a similar program with other funding coming from local organizations and “stakeholders.” They stopped short of promising a unilaterally funded program should the grants fail or stakeholders not be found.

The agencies agreed to report back to Impact at the organization’s October assembly.

Mental Health Resources

Information and Referral
Mental Health First Aid Course 970-1282
Albemarle County Info Line 296-5822
Charlottesville City Info Line 970-3333
Virginia for Community Resources 211
Mental Health America 977-4673
Creciendo Juntos 817-2436 x 116

Crisis/Helplines (24hours)
Region Ten Emergency Services 972-1800
Madison House Help-Line 295-8255
Runaway Emergency Services 972-SAFE
Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222
Suicide Hotline 800-784-2433
Sexual Assault Resource Agency 977-7273
Shelter for Help in Emergency 293-8509

Children, Youth and Family Services 296-4118
On Our Own (peer support) 979-2440
Region Ten 972-1800
NAMI Blue Ridge Family 296-2519

Legal Services
Juvenile Court Services Unit 979-7191
Legal Aid Society & Just Children 977-0553
Victim/Witness Albemarle 296-5830
Victim/Witness Charlottesville 970-3176

AIDS/HIV Services Group 979-7714
Free Clinic 296-5525
Health Department 972-6219
Teen Health Center 982-0090

Community Attention 970-3343/44
AHIP Emergency Home Repair 817-2447
Salvation Army 295-4058
PACEM 973-1234 x 114

Law Enforcement
Albemarle Police 296-5807
Charlottesville Police 970-3282

“We Wait”- Mental Health Testimony

The following testimony was delivered at IMPACT’s Rally on April 7th by Judith Looney, Member of First United Methodist Church.

Good evening, my name is Judith Looney and I’m a member of First United Methodist Church. I would like to take a moment and tell you about my daughter and our navigation through the mental health care system in Virginia. My daughter changed during the summer before she started her sophomore year at high school. She became withdrawn, preferring to spend her summer in the basement watching old TV shows. When I tried to ask her what was wrong, she would just cry and become angry with me. She also began self-harming behaviors, some of which I was unaware of at the time. I was frantic, I didn’t know who to turn to, and so I began emailing her school guidance counselor for advice. She directed me to Region Ten counselors within the school but I had to wait until school started in a month.

When school started the Region Ten counselor felt that my daughter needed her own therapist. I had no idea how to find one who was skilled working with adolescents with depression and eating disorders. We learned that we needed a team consisting of a psychiatrist, a nutritionist, a pediatrician and the therapist. This is when I learned the limits of our health coverage. I was distraught because we had to pay out of pocket for the nutritionist and the psychiatrist did not accept insurance due to unfair rules from the insurance companies. In spite of all this support, my daughter could not seem to pull out of her depression, anxiety and eating disorder and continued to lose weight. We decided to get her hospitalized for the eating disorder and the only hospital our insurance uses was Sheppard-Pratt in Baltimore. This was not a good fit for us: It was very far away, and there was no separate facility for youth and adolescents. My daughter went through the program, and for a time was frightened into eating well, another reason I didn’t think it was a good program. In fact, over time she has gone back to her bad eating habits. Fortunately her team has prevented her from totally giving up and she recently has gained some of the weight she lost over time.

In December, my daughter had a breakdown; she could not stop crying, and started scraping her arms raw, so we had to take her to the emergency room for help. We learned that Martha Jefferson no longer has any mental health practitioners on staff and we had to online video chat with a doctor at UVA. He recommended that she be admitted to an emergency facility. Then the scary part began. Once the doctor recommends treatment, parents have no say where she goes; it is whatever bed is available. She was admitted to a facility in Richmond, ran by VCU.

The VCU team told me that my daughter would benefit greatly from an in-patient facility in Hampton Roads, where she would stay for three months and relearn how to live. It sounded wonderful, but our insurance won’t cover it. Programs like these can cost as much as a 4 year degree! The psychologist at VCU then recommended an out-patient facility in Richmond which would provide 24/7 team support, something I haven’t been able to get in Charlottesville, and which our insurance would pay for. Unfortunately, I have been on their waiting list since December, and am waiting along with people from as far away as Washington DC and North Carolina. So, despite the urgency of our situation, we wait.

That is my family’s story. We are not poor, we have health insurance, but we don’t have enough resources to be able to get everything we need to help our daughter get better. We have to work through the system and it is a tangled maze. Over the past 2 years my family has been gone from school counselors, to Region Ten counselors, to Sheppard-Pratt in Baltimore, to VCU… and we still have not gotten the help she needs The care we need just isn’t here. If it is, we have to wait. The more that we can increase care here locally, the better off we will all be.


Daily Progress: IMPACT sharpens focus on mental health services for youth


All content of this post was taken from Daily Progress coverage of our April 7th Rally.

Armed with the results of a survey of public school students in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, Sheila Herlihy on Monday made her case for bolstering child psychiatric care before several hundred people at the Church of the Incarnation.

“We know of 376 students in our local schools who have seriously considered suicide,’ Herlihy said, “and kids in crisis wait an average of three months to by seen by a psychiatrist at Region Ten [Community Services Board].”

Representatives of the 26 groups comprising the nonprofit Interfaith Movement Promoting Action by Congregating Together vowed action on the issue, culled from community meetings held the month before Virginia’s fragmented mental health system was thrust into the national spotlight with the case of Austin C. “Gus” Deeds.

The challenge comes as Region Ten, one of 40 community services boards across the state that form the backbone of the Virginia’s public mental health system, turns to localities facing for help retaining school counseling positions that would otherwise disappear when federal grant money dries up in June.

The nine social workers serving the county and city high schools and middle schools through the federal Safe Schools Healthy Students program worked with 910 students last school year and provided about 6,000 hours of mental health services, according to an annual report.

“We’re scrambling to secure funding for five of those positions,” said Neta Davis, senior director of Child and Family Services for Region Ten. “It’s been an invaluable service for the kids and the point is to prevent disasters and crises.”

Davis said she has requested that Albemarle County and Charlottesville fund two positions each at a cost of about $60,000 per position. Region Ten plans to fund the fifth.

More needs to be done to cut down the wait list for child psychiatry, Davis said, but she estimated the average for an initial consultation at four to six weeks.

 “There is definitely a wait here and there is also a wait on the private side,” she said. “We would absolutely love to have a full-time child psychiatrist, but that would cost … more than $100,000.”

The wait for counseling and other mental services is not as long, she said. Davis said the organization provided mental health services to 1,135 children in Albemarle and Charlottesville in the last fiscal year, independent of the work done in schools.

Psychiatric services for children through Region Ten are available 15 hours per week through a contract with the University of Virginia’s Child and Family Psychiatry Department and Horizons Behavioral Health. The service is provided for nine hours each week in Charlottesville, four hours in Louisa County and two hours in Nelson County, Davis said.

“There is a national shortage of psychiatrists, especially in specialty areas such as child psychiatry,” said Eric Swensen, spokesman for UVa Medical Center.

IMPACT organizers say they have tackled complex problems before. Last year, the group took on homelessness and helped organize a coalition of nonprofit associations to share information and secure grant funding.

“Because of our working in separate silos, our community was missing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant funding to address homelessness,” said Al Horton, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Charlottesville.

The group will hear an update on the progress of this initiative at IMPACT’s signature event May 5 at John Paul Jones Arena. The goal in all efforts, big and small, is to promote social justice, said Bob Bayer, liaison to the group for Westminster Presbyterian Church.

“Justice is a state where everybody in the community is related to with respect and with equity,” Bayer said. “Not equality, equity.”


Meeting with Senator Creigh Deeds

On Tuesday, April 1st 8 leaders from IMPACT met with State Senator Creigh Deeds to discuss our mental health initiative. He and our leaders see from both research and personal experience just how broken our mental healthcare system is. He wanted to be clear that while the Charlottesville/Albemarle area is suffering from a shortage of mental health services, particularly in the area of child psychiatry, we are one of the better off communities in the state. If we are experiencing a psychiatric shortage in our area, then it is even worse in more rural counties. Many of these areas have no access to child psychiatric services.
We found common ground in the fact that the way things are is simply not good enough. There are many places where our system needs fixing. Senator Deeds has been working tirelessly, to look at immediate stop-gap measures to help those in serious crisis. He is committed to looking at systemic problems within the Community Service Board System, which is charged with providing community mental health and other services throughout the state.
We affirmed that we are grateful for his efforts and support him, and he affirmed that he is committed to continue working on this problem. 
He was unable to commit to the Nehemiah Action at this date, due to his schedule to be in court in Bath County that day, and uncertainties with general assembly work on the budget. However, he does have the event on his calendar and it may yet be possible for him to attend, given that his evening calendar that day is free.  He did commit to respond to any questions we sent him.
We want to be sure he knows that we are looking to stand in solidarity and take action with him, and that the Nehemiah Action is a great opportunity to continue building a long term working relationship so that together we can see real, systemic change.