Massachusetts is unique in that the state has seen recent growth in psychiatric bed capacity. While a good sign, the growth has further strained the already pronounced shortage of psychiatrists available to treat patients.
To address such challenges, behavioral health organizations are increasingly considering partnership agreements with outsourced establishments.
The Recovery Centers of America (RCA) Danvers location last week began delivering psychiatric services to its patients through a partnership with Square Medical Group (SMG), which includes a staff of 10 providers. Founder Natalie Lender, MD, will also serve as the Danvers center’s medical director.
“Psychiatrists in the state of Massachusetts are hard to come by,” Laura Ames, RCA Danvers’ CEO, tells Behavioral Healthcare Executive. “There’s just such a tremendous shortage, so this is really good for us.”
The partnership arrangement is a departure from the typical industry model that relies on perhaps one or two in-house psychiatrists to treat a center’s full census. Ames says the group practice, however, can cover more ground and offer flexibility.
Under the agreement, SMG will provide services for inpatient and outpatient levels of care on a long-term basis. Last fall, RCA Danvers began working with the state on a licensing issue and currently is licensed to operate 55 of its 207 beds—25 for detox and 30 for clinical stabilization.
“The expectation is that [SMG is] going to help us with the 55 beds we have, and as we grow, their services will expand with us,” Ames says. “They’ll also help us in outpatient as that starts to grow.”
As medical director, Lender will develop RCA Danvers’ practice guidelines and supervise the medical staff. SMG has experience in delivering medication-assisted treatment in conjunction with counseling and internal medicine services.
Ames, who is a registered nurse, manages operations of the center with responsibility for treatment protocols and educational programming. She has more than 20 years of experience in healthcare leadership, including an executive role with Spectrum Health Care.
Last August, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health suspended new admissions at the Danvers center because of patient safety concerns. In February 2018, the facility—now under Ames’ leadership—had the go-ahead from the state to admit new patients.
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