Welcome back! I hope that you are all doing well and that you had an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful summer we had in Seattle this year. This week, it has been nice to see students come back to campus, to hear the Husky band practice, and to see Drumheller Fountain and the campus come back to life. I am enjoying the first leaves turning color and the feeling of crisp fall air and I am digging my rain gear back out with mixed emotions. I know that some of you are still working from home in the midst of a stubborn pandemic that doesn’t seem to want to end, but I am hopeful that with increasing vaccination rates, we will eventually find our way back to a more normal way of life. This summer, we have worked hard to upgrade some of our workspaces, and as we welcome many of you back to your offices and laboratories, we will continue to follow all UW guidelines to make our workplace as safe as we possibly can. As you know, the University requires masks indoors for all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, and also requires all faculty and staff to be vaccinated as a condition of employment per Governor Inslee.
At Harborview Medical Center, we have launched a new partnership to help redesign our state’s crisis response system and to implement a new 9-8-8 crisis hotline and we are doing important work to address the role of implicit bias in the use of seclusion and restraints. I want to express my deepest gratitude to all of our clinicians who come to work every day and offer the best care they can in the midst of the ongoing pandemic and often under conditions of tremendous stress. This fall, we are looking forward to the groundbreaking ceremony for our new 150-bed Behavioral Health Teaching Facility on the UWMC Northwest campus, and I can’t wait to welcome our patients, trainees, faculty and staff to this state-of-the art facility when it open its doors in the fall of 2023. Our departmental Grand Rounds series returns this fall with a number of exciting presentations including a talk on the therapeutic benefits and potential of psychedelic drugs in combination with psychotherapy. We hope that you can join us for this and the many other outstanding presentations that we have planned for this coming academic year.
Thank you all for your tremendous contributions to the work of the department, especially during this challenging time! I am sorry that I cannot comment on all of the amazing things that are happing in our department in this brief note, but I encourage you to reach out to Becky Sladek, our Associate Director for Communication and Strategic Initiatives if you have news or announcements that you would like to share with the rest of us.
Please help us welcome our new faculty and staff!
Christine Ackerley joined the department in August 2021 as a Collaborator supporting the CoLab for Community & Behavioral Health Policy team. Christine is an incoming Fulbright doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary PhD program. Her research explores how to promote evidence uptake in healthcare policy and practice, drawing on fields including communication, behavioral science, implementation science and public policy. Additional interests include how researchers can better communicate and collaborate with non-researchers across disciplinary boundaries. Before her PhD, Christine worked in communications at British Columbia’s provincial public health authority, supporting evidence-based clinical policy and health system partnerships. Previously, Christine worked on Cities Changing Diabetes, a global program initiated by Novo Nordisk to address social determinants of diabetes through cross-sector partnerships between researchers, municipalities and communities. Christine holds an MA in Communication from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and a Bachelor’s in Journalism from Carleton University in Ottawa. Outside of work, Christine tries to get into nature as much as possible, on back-country hikes and kayak trips. She also enjoys DIY projects and volunteering with the Capitol Hill Tool Library. If you would like to reach out to Christine and say hello, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ella Baumgarten, joined the department in August 2021 as a Research Study Assistant working with CoLab for Community & Behavioral Health Policy. Before coming to CoLab, Ella earned a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience from the University of Montana in 2019. She then went to the University of York in York, England where she earned her MPH in January 2021. Ella’s research focuses on school-based interventions to reduce teacher violence against children and systematic review methodology. Ella then went on to be a Research Assistant at the Social Development Research Group in the School of Social Work at UW. She is now working on King County's Best Starts for Kids Initiative and the Community, Youth, and Development Study. Outside of work, Ella likes to go camping, hiking, and spending time with her friends and families. If you would like to reach out to Ella and say hello, her email is email@example.com.
Jennifer Cohen, MNPL (not to be confused with the UW Athletic Director!) joined the department in August 2021 as a School Mental Health Program Coordinator at the SMART Center, and specifically, the Northwest Mental Health Technology Transfer Center. Jennifer has a broad background in non-profit leadership and private sector experience. She is excited to utilize her skills in financial management, marketing and communications, and project management to further the goals of the Center. Jennifer is passionate about school mental health and recently served on the Secondary Counseling Program Committee for Shoreline Public Schools. She holds a BA in Journalism/Public Relations and Minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Oregon and a Masters in Not-For-Profit Leadership from Seattle University. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys reading, walking her dog, and spending time outdoors hiking and kayaking with her family. If you would like to reach out to Jennifer and say hello, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aaron Davis joined the department in May 2021 as a Research Study Assistant at the HaRRT Center. Aaron recently finished up a Bachelor's in Health Studies and Global Health from UW Bothell. They will begin their Master's of Public Health Epidemiology program at UW Seattle in Fall 2021. Aaron spent the majority of their undergraduate career researching the intersection between racial health disparities, and social ideas of deservingness of care and aid. Aaron believes strongly in the power of community and aspires to work as a health disparities researcher applying interventions to underserved populations. During the pandemic, Aaron has worked on the frontlines as a Covid isolation and quarantine site manager working exclusively with unhoused populations experiencing illness. Their interest includes intersections of race, gender, resilience and the homelessness experience, and applied restorative justice. Outside of work and school, you can find Aaron exploring the PNW wilderness photographing native plants, or volunteering with community food justice initiatives. If you would like to reach out to Aaron and say hello, their email is email@example.com.
Norah Essali, MD, joined the department in July 2021 as an Acting Assistant Professor at Harborview. Dr. Essali works in HMHAS at the IBIS and Addiction clinics, the Pioneer Square and Third Avenue clinics, and the Addiction Consult Service. Dr. Essali started her medical training in Syria, completed her Psychiatry residency at the Medical College of Georgia, and Addiction Psychiatry fellowship at UW. She is passionate about working with underserved populations on mental health and addiction issues. She also enjoys teaching and will be involved with medical student and resident education. Outside of work, Dr. Essali loves playing with her puppy, Winston, exploring Seattle's food scene with her significant other, painting, reading, hiking, kayaking, camping (and anything outdoors/on the water really), and trying to keep her plants alive (not much of a green thumb). If you would like to reach out to Dr. Essali and say hello, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Noor Hamdy, joined the department in June 2021 as a Research Study Assistant at the HaRRT Center. Noor previously worked at Sound Health as an Adult Services Clinician for adults dealing with homelessness, substance use and/or serious mental illness in Belltown. In her undergraduate career, Noor conducted research on Syrian refugees in the suburbs of Los Angeles and found that she is passionate about research that positively impacts marginalized communities. Noor is thrilled to make the transition from a clinician to a researcher and is immensely excited to work at the HaRRT center. When she is not at work, Noor can be found on one of the many basketball courts in Seattle or shooting film around the city. Noor hopes to eventually pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology in pursuit of research and clinical work on populations that struggle with complex trauma. If you would like to reach out to Noor and say hello, her email is email@example.com.
Alissa Hemke, MD, joined the department in July 2021 as a child and adolescent Psychiatrist working with fellows and residents at Seattle Children’s outpatient continuity clinic, and in the Early Childhood Clinic. Dr. Hemke is proud to have done general residency and fellowship at UW. Outside of work, she enjoys tootling around in her vegetable garden, and spending time with her husband and 2-year-old daughter Zoe. If you would like to reach out to Dr. Hemke and say hello, her email is Alissa.Hemke@seattlechildrens.org.
Alyssa Hernandez, joined the department in July 2021 as a Research Coordinator at the School Mental Health Assessment, Research, and Training (SMART) Center. She is primarily working on the Autism Intervention Research Network for Behavioral Health (AIR-B) projects and Preparing Teachers and Paraeducators for the Successful Inclusion of Children with ASD (ASD PREP) study. Alyssa attended UT Austin, receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She has been a part of clinical psychology, developmental psychology, and cognitive neuroscience research labs at UT Austin, UT Health San Antonio, and St. Mary’s University. Alyssa had the opportunity to work with diverse clients and participants, ranging in age, abilities, and socioeconomic status. Her primary interests center around dissemination and implementation of evidenced-based practices, primarily working with neurodiverse children from underrepresented and under-resourced communities. Outside of work, Alyssa enjoys dancing, particularly Lindy Hop and other dances from the Swing music era. She also enjoys being outside, whether gardening in the backyard or hiking at a park. If you would like to reach out to Alyssa and say hello, her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liz Jones, joined the department in August 2021 as a Psychometrist in the RAB lab located on the third floor of the Center on Human Development and Disability Clinic. Liz recently moved to Seattle all the way from Austin, Texas and is looking forward to her experiences here at UW. She spent some years studying at the University of Oregon before moving back home to continue working on her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout her undergraduate education, Liz conducted research as an assistant in various labs and administered neuropsychological evaluations to patients as a psychometrist at a clinic. Liz is so happy to live in the beautiful state of Washington and is looking forward to connecting with y’all! Her favorite things to do outside of work are running, hiking, baking, playing with her dog and reading. If you would like to reach out to Liz and say hello, her email is email@example.com.
Alvaro La Rosa, MD, joined the department in July 2021 as an inpatient Psychiatrist on 5MB as well as an inpatient consultation Psychiatrist on the inpatient consultation psychiatry service at Harborview Medical Center. Dr. La Rosa completed his residency training in Psychiatry at Loyola University Medical Center where he was a chief resident from 2018 until 2020. He then completed the Consultation (Psychosomatic Medicine) Psychiatry fellowship at the University of Washington from 2020 until 2021. Outside of work, Dr. La Rosa loves spending time with his now one in a half year old son and spouse. They go on day hikes on Saturday or Sunday mornings and are fond of croissants from a local bakery in North Seattle. Otherwise, he enjoys reading, watching fútbol games, and working on dad jokes. If you would like to reach out to Dr. La Rosa and say hello, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Andie Uomoto, joined the department in September 2021 as a Project Manager for Strategic Initiatives with the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions. Andie will help launch and sustain projects within the Garvey Institute and will also assist with communications related work. Andie was formerly with the department from 2014 to 2018 when she worked with Dr. Suzanne Kerns on her Administration for Children and Family’s grant at PBHJP. After that grant ended, Andie moved to Colorado to work for Dr. Kern's Rocky Mountain Multisystemic Therapy Network within the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She received her Master of Public Administration degree at the UW Evans School of Public Policy & Governance. Outside of work, Andie enjoys baking and is an avid food lover. She also likes to play mahjong and is learning hand embroidery. If you would like to reach out to Andie and say hello, her email is email@example.com.
New faculty member Marco Pravetoni will lead a new Center for Medication Development for Substance Use Disorders
We’re excited to announce that Marco Pravetoni, PhD, will be joining our department as the inaugural holder of the Rick L. Seaver Endowed Professorship for Brain Wellness funded by the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions. Dr. Pravetoni is an expert in the development of vaccines, antibody-based strategies, and small molecules to counteract opioid use disorders and overdose, approaches that can improve the lives of individuals living with substance use disorders or who are at risk of fatal overdoses. He is currently at the University of Minnesota Medical School where is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, and a member of the Center for Immunology and the Medical Discovery Team on Addiction. He and his team are testing the first in-human vaccine against the euphoric and toxic effects of oxycodone and have initiated Phase I Clinical Trials.
Dr. Pravetoni will direct a new Center for Medication Development for Substance Use Disorders which will be located in the Research and Training (R&T) Building at Harborview Medical Center. The Center will develop and seek to translate innovative strategies for the prevention and treatment of substance use disorders, with a particular focus on opioids that account for a large proportion of fatal drug overdoses in King County. This new research program will seek to augment and partner with the efforts of scientists, clinicians, advocates, clients, civic leaders and other shareholders to combat addiction and to serve the health needs of the community.
Please join us in welcoming Dr. Pravetoni when he joins us later this year.
Jim Vollendroff steps into new role as Behavioral Health Senior Advisor for Policy and Advocacy
After serving as the Director of the Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) at Harborview Medical Center for the past two years and the Behavioral Health Service Line Administrator, Jim Vollendroff, MPA, has accepted a new position as the Behavioral Health Senior Advisor for Policy and Advocacy. This position draws on Jim’s deep connections in behavioral health statewide and leverages his public policy and clinical background. In addition to public policy and advocacy, Jim will continue to work with citiesRISE in a global senior leadership role, will act as a consultant in the statewide effort to redesign our crisis system, and will support the development of a state strategic plan to address behavioral health disparities and to improve the behavioral health needs of the BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, geriatric and youth and young adult populations, rural communities, pregnant and parenting individuals and individuals living with disabilities.
Deepa Rao becomes new program director for MPH in Global Health program Deepa Rao, PhD, MA, has succeeded Steve Gloyd, MD, MPH, as the new program director for the UW Department of Global Health Master of Public Health (MPH) program, one of the premier global health programs in the world that offers a unique combination of scholarship and activism. Dr. Rao is a professor of Global Health and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences and the current interim senior associate dean of the School of Public Health (SPH) who served as associate program director alongside Gloyd for eight years. Read more.
HR team transition
Maureen Johnson has left her position as Associate Director of Human Resources in the department earlier this month. We are very appreciative of all the great work Maureen has done over the past five years. We are initiating a new search and hope to fill the position soon. In the meanwhile, please address all faculty HR questions to Ali Iqbal, Vice Chair, Finance and Administration, firstname.lastname@example.org and Kim Quigley, Academic HR Manager, email@example.com.
Tele-psychiatry a resounding success in 5-year trial
A five-year study led by John Fortney, PhD, and Jürgen Unützer, MD, MPH, MA, published in JAMA Psychiatry found that telepsychiatry in rural, federally qualified health centers was a resounding success for patients who had screened positive for bipolar disorder and/or PTSD. The trial, called The Study to Promote Innovation in Rural Integrated Telepsychiatry (SPIRIT), was designed to identify the best approach to delivering tele-mental health services to rural primary-care clinics. It compared two interactive video approaches to integrate remote specialty mental health services in participating clinics. Tele-referral services involved one-on-one visits with a psychiatrist or licensed clinical psychologist. Tele-collaborative services involved a telepsychiatrist and care manager supporting visits with a primary care provider.
Patients in both groups reported substantially and statistically significant improvements in perceived access to care, decreases in their mental health symptoms and medication side effects, and improvements in their quality of life. There was no difference between the groups, and there were no differences in outcomes regarding age, gender, race or ethnicity. The trial recruited 1,004 patients from twenty-four FQHC clinics in rural Arkansas, Michigan, and Washington. It is the largest treatment mental health trial for rural patients to date and the biggest single grant our department has ever had. In addition to Drs. Fortney and Unützer, contributing authors include Amy Bauer, MD, MS, Joe Cerimele, MD, MPH, Matt Hawrilenko, PhD, and Lori Ferro, MHA. Read more.
Expansion of Seven Directions
The work of Seven Directions, the first national public health institute in the United States to focus solely on improving Indigenous health and wellness, is expanding its impact with the hiring of two new Acting Assistant Professors, Maya Magarati, PhD, and Christina Oré, PhD. Drs. Magarati and Oré currently work within the Seven Directions team on a variety of Indigenous-focused research, evaluation and teaching projects as Research Scientists. As their roles have grown, and the projects within the Seven Directions portfolios have developed, Executive Director of Seven Directions Myra Parker, JD, MPH, PhD, saw a need to develop new faculty members who can contribute to the overall purpose of the Seven Directions efforts, which is to advance American Indian and Alaska Native health and wellness by honoring Indigenous knowledge, strengthening Tribal and Urban Indian public health systems, and cultivating innovation and collaboration. They will engage in incorporating Indigenous epistemologies in Indigenous behavioral health programs and translating and disseminating tribal best practices in behavioral health, among other things. Drs. Magarati and Oré each have about ten years’ experience demonstrating skilled and respectful partnership building with Indigenous communities.
Seven Directions projects are funded at over $1 million annually and focus on important behavioral health topics including identifying ways to address anxiety and depression, stress reduction, Indigenous approaches to heal from trauma, and substance use prevention, with a particular focus on opioid overdose prevention. The program is part of the Center for the Study of Health and Risk Behaviors in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
Final report: Engaging families of children with rare genetic disorders via a novel online platform
In April 2021, we announced the recipients of our 2020 Small Grants Program aimed at advancing the clinical, educational, research and/or advocacy missions of our department. We were able to allocate nearly $100,000 to a terrific set of diverse, one-year proposals from faculty, staff and trainees on a wide range of topics. Kaitlyn Ahlers, PhD, and Eva Kurtz-Nelson, PhD, submitted their final report for the “Engaging families of children with rare genetic disorders via a novel online platform” project.
The goal of their project was to engage more families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and CHD8 mutations -- a recently identified genetic disorder strongly associated with ASD -- with an innovative online app (GroopIt) to empower families to be partners in research.
Drs. Ahlers and Kurtz-Nelson learned that families of individuals with CHD8 mutations are eager to engage and partner in online research, as demonstrated by high initial enrollment and engagement in early surveys. In addition, they were able to gather information from families about their research priorities and use this information to drive collaborative research activities. However, use of the Groopit platform did not result in sustained engagement over time. The platform required families to log in to a separate website or app to provide data and navigate an unfamiliar data reporting interface, which we believe presented a barrier to continued engagement. To summarize, the researchers learned that while online participatory research is feasible and of interest to the CHD8 community, a more user-friendly or lower barrier data collection process will be needed for future research efforts. Read more
Launch of UW Behavioral Research Center for HIV
We are excited to announce the launch of the Behavioral Research Center for HIV (BIRCH) at the University of Washington. This developmental Center, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, will provide infrastructure and support for high-impact science on HIV and mental health and a research home for like-minded scholars. The Center will emphasize interdisciplinary research on the behavioral aspects of the epidemic, especially how we can better integrate mental health treatment into HIV prevention and treatment strategies. In addition, the Center will offer technical assistance, training, and pilot funding as well as nurture the next generation of diverse HIV researchers through training and mentorship. The goal is to facilitate the dissemination of the latest advances, not just within academic circles, but to HIV service providers, affected communities, and policymakers as well.
BIRCH is led by Pamela Collins, MD, MPH, Susan Graham, MD, MPH, PhD, and Jane Simoni, PhD, with support from Deepa Rao, PhD, MA, (Developmental Core Director), Lydia Chwastiak, MD, MPH, (Integrated Care Core Director), and Brian Flaherty, PhD (Methods Core Director). The Center is supported by Administrative Director Susan Mello and Program Manager Tessa Concepcion. UW BIRCH will prioritize partnerships with our university, community, and global partners, without whose support we cannot succeed. We look forward to working closely with our partners and building this Center together. Bookmark the UW BIRCH website and follow the center on Twitter (@uwbirch) to stay connected!
Diversity supplement awarded to HaRRT Center
We are pleased to announce that Mx. Taurmini Fentress, a fourth year PhD student in Social Welfare in the School of Social Work, in partnership with HaRRT Center directors Seema Clifasefi, PhD, and Susan Collins, PhD, has secured an NIAAA Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research to explore resilience in managing and negotiating adverse circumstances in communities that have experienced homelessness and alcohol use disorder. Her research will focus on validating and testing an established measure of resilience (Resilience Research Centre Adult Resilience Measure) to characterize resilience in study participants and test it as a correlate of improved alcohol and quality of life outcomes, as well as a potential mediator of the hypothesized treatment effects. Mx. Fentress will also qualitatively explore the concept of resilience in this population to better understand the strengths and abilities of this marginalized population as they navigate challenging conditions. Through her research, she hopes to help shape interventions that can minimize harms associated with AUD and improve quality of life for individuals and communities alike.
For more information about the Diversity Supplements Program, you can watch a recording of an informational Zoom session we held on May 5, 2021 (Net ID required). The session featured an overview of the program by Albert Avila, NIH Program Officer, and insight from past and current department mentors and mentees of the program.
Reducing restraints, seclusion and implicit bias on an Inpatient Psychiatry Unit
The inpatient psychiatry unit at Harborview Medical Center (HMC) typically treats patients that are more psychiatrically decompensated or have difficult behavioral problems. Data from 2013 to 2019, showed that there is a disparity in the seclusions and restraints use for patients, with Black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) placed in restraints more than their white counterparts. In 2020, this trend reversed due to an unprecedented spike in restraints and seclusion use that occurred for multiple reasons. Under the mentorship of Dana Dieringer, MD, current residents Chris Nguyen and Cynthia Beltran and former resident Jenny Nguyen conducted a quality improvement project with the aim of reducing the use of restraint and seclusion on the HMC inpatient psychiatry unit and to reduce racial disparities in restraint and seclusion usage.
The evidence for interventions that successfully reduced restraints and seclusion usage are sparse. Positive studies often bundle interventions together. Based on the evidence available, the team decided to standardize the leadership review structure and to implement a behavioral care plan. The leadership review brings up explicitly the question of implicit bias and how it could play a role in the initiation and continuation of restraint and seclusion and the treatment plan going forward. The behavioral care plan requires information to help the treatment team and the leadership review team better individuate the patient, a technique that has been demonstrated to be effective in reducing implicit bias.
Drs. Nguyen, Beltran and Nguyen implemented these interventions as a pilot project from March to June 2021. Feedback from team members of the leadership review have thus far been positive. They perceived the implicit bias questions as useful and like the standardization of the discussion in the leadership review. It was commented that the behavioral assessment tool was difficult to fill out for patients in seclusion and it was a challenge to complete the leadership review in thirty minutes.
Due to the EPIC transition that occurred in the middle of their project, the team is still waiting to collect data, but once they can evaluate the effectiveness of these interventions, they will look for ways to implement them permanently into our care pathways. Future interventions can be targeted at discussions of gender identity which was felt to be lacking in their patient discussions. Read the full report
New program led by Ben Danielson, MD, will tackle youth incarceration
We are excited to announce the creation of a new program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences that seeks to end youth incarceration in Washington State. The proposed AHSHAY Center, Allies in Healthier Systems for Health & Abundance in Youth, will be directed by Ben Danielson, MD. A foundational grant to establish AHSHAY was made by the Bezos Family Foundation.
“Dr. Danielson is a tireless advocate for ensuring the best possible outcomes for youth and their families,” said Mike Bezos, Vice-President and Co-Founder of the Bezos Family Foundation. “Combined with his decades of experience working side-by-side with the community, Dr. Danielson is uniquely qualified to lead this important work to advance positive, evidence-based approaches to ending youth incarceration.”
The mission of AHSHAY will be to end youth incarceration in Washington State by 2030 and to promote paths to opportunity that are youth-centered, community-informed and evidence-based, with a focus on communities historically most impacted by youth incarceration. The Center will promote solutions, including new programs and policy changes, that are centered on the health and well-being of children and youth while considering the overall well-being of families and communities.
“The science is unequivocal when it comes to youth incarceration,” said Danielson. “It has devastating and long-term negative consequences for youth and children and is racist, expensive and leads to recidivism. We want to replace youth incarceration with opportunities to help children and youth, particularly youth of color, be their best.”
Dr. Danielson plans to bring together and collaborate with established programs and experts to accomplish this ambitious but challenging goal. A convening of stakeholders throughout Washington State is being planned for Fall, 2021.
Dr. Danielson, the former medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic, will be supported by the Barton Distinguished Endowed Professorship for Youth Justice and Health Equity, made possible by a generous gift from UW Medicine donors Sarah and Rich Barton.
“We are passionate about eliminating the racial disparities in our health care system and our criminal justice system,” said the Bartons. “We stand behind Dr. Danielson’s goal to end youth incarceration and look forward to the benefits he will accrue for our community through his appointment at UW Medicine.”
Work has begun on improving statewide behavioral health crisis services
The Behavioral Health Institute (BHI) at Harborview Medical Center is facilitating a stakeholder process to support the effort to build an improved behavioral health crisis response system for Washington State that will provide a new 9-8-8 crisis response phone line, improved coordination of mobile crisis responders, and better access to crisis clinics. The goal is to create a system that will decrease deaths from suicide and reduce reliance on emergency room services and the use of law enforcement response to behavioral health crises, and to stabilize individuals in the community whenever possible.
Improved access to behavioral health crisis services is sorely needed. Nearly 6,000 Washington adults and children died by suicide in the last five years, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reflecting a state increase of 36 percent in the last 10 years. Veterans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, LGBTQ youth, older adults, and people living in rural counties across the state experience higher suicide rates higher than the general population.
The Crisis Response System Improvement Strategy (CRIS) Committee, legislated by Washington State, includes stakeholders across government, community behavioral health providers and persons with lived experience of behavioral health crises. Mark Snowden, MD, MPH, and Allie Franklin, LICSW, from Harborview's BHI are working with Betsy Jones from Health Management Associates (HMA) to facilitate the work of the CRIS Committee. The Committee will analyze the current crisis response system and make recommendations to implement the 9-8-8 crisis hotline in Washington specifically, and statewide improvements of behavioral health crisis response services in general. Earlier this year, the Ballmer Group gave nearly $3 million over two years to the BHI to support this effort as part of its $38M set of gifts to address behavioral health needs in Washington.
Groundbreaking set for Behavioral Health Teaching Facility
The groundbreaking ceremony for the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility at UWMC-Northwest will take place October 15, 2021 from 11:30 AM - 12:30 PM in a hybrid event. The new facility will offer a one-of-a-kind fully integrated welcoming and healing environment to individuals struggling with serious physical and behavioral health problems. The building will support a full continuum of clinical services ranging from effective medication management and psychotherapies to state-of-the-art neuromodulation treatments as well as medical and surgical care for individuals with medical and behavioral health disorders. The building will also become the home for our state-wide telepsychiatry consultation program and an interdisciplinary training and workforce development program that is focused on preparing and supporting the next generation of behavioral health providers for Washington State.
Construction activities in the upcoming month include the excavation and preparation of the building site to prepare for the main structure at the end of October. You can watch follow- the continued progress on this project in a live video feed.
BWELL to focus on workforce development
Too many individuals and families affected by mental health and addiction problems struggle with access to good care because of a serious shortage of mental health professionals. Our department has a longstanding commitment to addressing state-wide workforce needs through programs such as the Integrated Care Training Program (ICTP), the Evidence Based Practice Institute (EBPI), recently incorporated into the CoLab), and we are expanding our efforts in this area by launching the Behavioral Health Workforce Expansion and Lifelong Learning (BWELL) program. This new program will develop new training opportunities that complement our existing programs for medical students, psychology and psychiatry residents. New initiatives under the BWELL umbrella will include the recently funded Behavioral Health Support Specialist (BHSS) program for undergraduates, a new residency program for advanced practice providers, and an effort to develop core infrastructure to grow our educational capacity across the department and for our community partners.
Anna Ratzliff, MD, PhD, will provide leadership for this new program in a new departmental role as /> Director for Behavioral Health Workforce Expansion and Lifelong Learning. Dr. Ratzliff has overseen many of our workforce development initiatives as Director of the Integrated Care Training Program and Co-Director of the AIMS Center, and she is well-positioned to take on this challenge. We are excited that Dr. Ratzliff will bring her creativity, innovation and passion for improving access to mental health care to this new role. She will also continue to serve as Director of the Psychiatry Residency Training Program while we conduct a national search to identify a new leader for this important role.
Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant Residency Training Program
A new partnership with our School of Nursing seeks to create a Psychiatry Residency Program that would create important new clinical training and leadership opportunities for advanced practice providers such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. During a one-year residency program, nurse practitioners would work in inpatient and outpatient behavioral health care settings gaining crucial experience in assessment, clinical management and team leadership alongside psychiatry residents and with supervision and mentorship from experienced nurse practitioners, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. The program would provide standardization and recognition of the additional training and skills needed for such advanced practice providers to take important clinical leadership and supervisory roles in behavioral health. Several states such as Iowa and Missouri have substantially enhanced their behavioral health workforce using this approach and we are excited about developing the partnerships needed to develop such a program for graduates of nurse practitioner and physician assistant training programs here in Washington State. We are currently seeking philanthropic and state support to initiate this new program.
Lummi Tribal Health Center Rotation for Psychiatry Residents
American Indians and Alaska Natives are at least twice as likely to experience serious psychological distress as compared with White, African American, Asian and Latinx individuals. They also face a higher risk of experiencing poverty, violence and trauma, but have limited access to social services and healthcare that could help address the health and mental health consequences of these stressors. Moreover, these disparities are often exacerbated when AI/AN people live in rural communities.
Though research has demonstrated integrated care can effectively improve access and quality of mental health services in rural areas, successfully integrating mental health services into these areas (especially in clinics that serve AI/AN populations) requires a readily available mental health workforce that has been trained in cultural humility and the historical context of working with marginalized groups. Psychiatry residents, who can potentially serve a critical role in this workforce after they graduate, are more likely to practice post-graduation in settings and with populations they have been exposed to during their training.
With philanthropic support, the AIMS Center and the University of Washington have partnered with the Lummi Tribal Health Center (LTHC) to develop an integrated care rotation for senior psychiatry residents that focuses on delivering care via telepsychiatry to a rural, Coast Salish indigenous population in northwestern Washington state. As part of this six-month rotation, psychiatry residents provide direct care to LTHC patients via telepsychiatry and participate in delivery of integrated care services at LTHC, all under the weekly clinical supervision of a child and adult psychiatrist. Residents also gain an understanding of the historical and cultural context of the Lummi Nation to foster cultural humility in delivering mental health care to AI/AN people and complete a scholarly project of their choosing.
Under the supervision of Jessica Whitfield, MD, MPH, two residents completed the new rotation in 2020-21 and two fourth-year UW psychiatry residents are enrolled this year. The donation also supported the development of a Virtual Care Implementation ECHO Program that was recently launched, with the aim to help improve access to care for tribal populations via telehealth.
New online Resident Portfolio system
We are excited to announce a new online Resident Portfolio system for our Psychiatry Residency Training Program! The new tool will be the main mechanism psychiatry residents use to submit all forms electronically that were previously submitted by paper. This system will also allow residents to better track their progress throughout their training. We hope this will streamline the ability to share and track information with our Residents. We would like to extend gratitude to the exceptional team whose dedication and hard work made this possible. Thank you to Anna Ratzliff, Rosemary Whitright, Colleen Himes, Athena Wong, Marie Carmelo, Liz Tyson, Steven Perez and Michele Roe. For questions or more information, please contact Anna Ratzliff at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grand Rounds begins in October
Starting in October, departmental Grand Rounds will occur approximately weekly, in webinar format, with a range of presentation topics including advances in clinical practice, research, training, and policy. Speakers will represent our own department, other parts of the UW and our local community, and out-of-town experts. This weekly series of free, educational lectures is open to the public and can be advertised widely; please see the Grand Rounds website for scheduled presentations. Joseph Cerimele, MD, MPH, is leading the expanded series with support from Semhar Abraha. If you have a suggestion for a Grand Rounds speaker or topic, please contact Dr. Cerimele at email@example.com.
Strong showing at Association for Academic Psychiatry
Our department was well represented at the Association for Academic Psychiatry annual meeting held virtually earlier this month. The AAP seeks to help psychiatrists who are interested in careers in academic psychiatry develop the skills and knowledge in teaching, research and career development required to succeed. This year’s theme was Bridging the Divide: Reducing Inequity Through Education. Faculty in AAP leadership positions include Suzanne Murray, MD (AAP President from 2019-21), Heidi Combs, MD (Associate Program Chair for the 2021 meeting and Program Chair for the 2022 meeting), and Jesse Markman, MD (former Career Development Chair and incoming Secretary/Treasurer). A big congratulations to Molly Howland, MD, who won the Resident Psychiatry Educator Award, created to honor psychiatry residents who demonstrate particular promise as educators and scholars in the field of academic psychiatry.
Seattle Met Top Docs 2021
Congratulations to Catherine McCall, MD, and Andy Saxon, MD, on being named one of the Best Physicians in the Puget Sound region in Seattle Met Magazine for 2021.
We are delighted they were selected for this well-deserved honor and appreciate their commitment to excellence in patient care.
Thank You from the Health Sciences Deans
The Health Sciences Deans sent out a thank you letter to all staff acknowledging the many essential personnel—from facilities maintenance to technicians to researchers to healthcare professionals—who have been on the Health Sciences campus throughout the pandemic period. “As plans are developing for many faculty, students, and staff to return to campus this fall, we want to extend special recognition to those who never left. You were steadfast in your commitment to this campus, its facilities, and those we serve. Even a pandemic of unprecedented proportions did not deter you from placing the needs of others before yourself.”
University of Washington
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356560
Seattle, WA 98195
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