Psychiatry Consultation Team Supports Those in Need
June 17, 2020 | 2 min. to read
Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison (CL) team quickly adjusted their care model to ensure hospitalized patients and caregivers on the front line continued to receive seamless access to important psychiatric services. The Psychiatry CL service is the only Northwestern Memorial Hospital consultation service that has dedicated hospitalist faculty, and an associated Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited subspecialty fellowship.
“Attending physicians Brandon S. Hamm, MD; Gabriel Heiber, MD; and Eric D. Gausche, MD, have continued to provide outstanding quality care to patients on all wards of Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Prentice Women’s Hospital as COVID-19 interrupted most normal operations,” says Lisa J. Rosenthal, MD, FACLP, chief of consultation of Psychiatry. “I would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of the Psychiatry consultation team during this time and express my gratitude for having such a wonderful and dedicated division of outstanding physicians.”
Additionally, psychiatry fellows and residents stepped up to staff many consults to avoid gaps in care since the first days of the pandemic.
“Many of the patients we are consulted to assess are often confused or agitated and not good candidates for a telehealth visit,” says Dr. Hamm. In early March, the team met to discuss ways to safely meet patient needs and support an anticipated increase in mental health services for clinicians. With minor modifications, such as donning and doffing PPE where necessary, using in-room technology to communicate, and collaborating with ICU and Infection Prevention to develop agitation management protocols, the team could continue consultation care for patients without disruption.
“There have been a lot of tough cases,” says Dr. Hamm, describing the challenges of working with distressed patients who are on ventilators or experiencing delirium from sedatives. “We’re getting used to finding creative and interesting solutions to challenges.”
Dr. Rosenthal and the team collaborated with the ICU, Pharmacy and Neuro ICU teams to develop agitation management protocols. They have also been working with Medicine teams to care for patients who have difficulty with psychiatric placement due to the pandemic, have facilitated support for anxious patients on COVID-19 units through the Psychology program, and developed a pathway to support physicians and staff in anticipation of the need for allocation-of-care discussions.
Additionally, the Psychiatry CL team has a clinical pathway available to NMH physicians and staff who experience psychiatric emergencies at work. “We expect mental health needs to last far beyond the pandemic,” says Dr. Hamm.
If you need support, contact the Northwestern Medicine Physician-2-Physician (P2P) Peer Support Network. P2P is a voluntary service available to all Northwestern Medicine Central Region physicians (employed and private) who are experiencing job-related stress or anxiety due to adverse events. Plans are underway to expand the program to other regions. To request peer support, email email@example.com. Contact your unit manager for referral to emergency psychiatry programs or Employee Assistance Program resources. Thank you, Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison team, for being Northwestern Medicine Heroes for Better.
Heroes for Better is a campaign to honor our workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are seeking stories, photos or art that show teamwork, impactful interactions and inspiring moments. Some of your stories may be shared on NM Interactive, nm.org and/or NM social media channels. Submit your story by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.