Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti toured The Josselyn Center on Friday, May 18th, as part of her new state task force to develop a comprehensive tele-medicine strategy for the Medicaid program to help improve access to healthcare. The Josselyn Center's tele-psychiatry program helps bridge the gap to this scarce resource.
The Lt. Governor participated in a mock tele-health session with a Josselyn client and Josselyn's tele-psychiatrist Dr. Hossam Mahmoud, President-Elect of the Illinois Psychiatric Society and Medical Director of Regroup, Josselyn's partner in tele-health. The Lt. Governor and the client conversed in Spanish about the enormous stigma in the Latino community surrounding mental health.
We shared with the Lt. Governor that due to low Medicaid reimbursement rates for psychiatric services, other community mental health clinics have eliminated, or severely restricted access to psychiatric services. At these centers, Medicaid recipients can wait years for a first appointment.
The Josselyn Center launches innovative programs like telepsychiatry in order to increase access for all people.
Josselyn's Tele-Medicine Program Increases Access to Scarce Psychiatric Services
There is a severe shortage of psychiatrists in the United States; psychiatry is the second most heavily recruited medical sub-specialty, after family medicine. Community mental health clinics rely on Medicaid reimbursements, which cover only half the cost of providing psychiatric care. Thus, we are simply not able to recruit or retain psychiatrists who are in such high demand, and who can receive two-five times higher compensation for their services from private insurance or private-pay clients.
As a result, psychiatric services are severely limited to Medicaid recipients, the very people who need it the most. Psychiatric care helps people with mental health conditions remain employed, enjoy healthy relationships and contribute to society. Among Illinois Medicaid recipients with a disability, almost half have a mental health diagnosis.
Tele-medicine is efficient and effective. For example, Dr. Mahmoud resides in Chicago. Instead of sitting in two-three hours of traffic each day traveling to The Josselyn Center, he can see six to nine clients during that time by avoiding the commute. Josselyn's medical services coordinator and nurse provide the important medical services which must be provided face-to-face, such as taking vitals, administering injections, and accompanying the client during the telehealth session, if the client wishes. The quality of the service is just as high as traditional, face-to-face services; the average client satisfaction score for our telehealth service is a 4.8/5.0.
Child Psychiatrists Donate Care at Josselyn But Wrestle with Medicaid Drug Options
The Lt. Governor also met one of our Josselyn Champions, volunteer child psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Feld, who donates four hours a month to provide care to low income children at Josselyn. Dr. Feld shared a story about a young Josselyn client with ADHD. The child is a Medicaid recipient, which limits the medicines Dr. Feld can prescribe. The only option for this child is a short-acting stimulant that lasts just three hours. The child has to go to the nurse at lunch for another dose, which he avoids because it's embarrassing, so he was suspended for an outburst in the afternoon, after his medicine wore off. Dr. Feld's private-pay client just one mile away gets to take a 13-hour, long-acting stimulant with fewer side effects, no stigmatizing visits to the nurse mid-day, and is doing better in school as a result.
Just as Lt. Governor Sanguinetti is dedicated to providing all Illinois residents with quality healthcare via technology, so is The Josselyn Center committed to providing ALL our community members with quality psychiatric services. One in six North Shore residents is eligible for Medicaid, and we rely on the generous contributions of our donors to make up the difference between what Medicaid reimburses, and the cost of care. We must raise $100 for every hour of psychiatric services. We have provided this vital service for 67 years in an affordable manner, thanks to your support. Your gift will help us continue to provide psychiatric services. We can't do it without you!
The Josselyn Center wishes to thank Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti for her visit, and we thank you for your support, which makes everything we do possible.
Originally published on The Josselyn Center's News Page.