The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center is the largest hospital affiliate in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, training the largest number of residents and housing the largest contingent of faculty. In concert with recent changes in healthcare delivery over the past few years, the MEDVAMC Psychiatry Service reorganized into the Mental Health Care Line effective May 1, 2001. The MHCL is comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health social workers and nurses, and all other technicians and staff needed for the provision of comprehensive mental health services to veteran patients. In addition, the MHCL implemented innovative strategies to reduce inpatient programming and greatly expand outpatient treatment options.
This successful reorganization provides state-of-the-art mental health services in a continuity of care model to a large number of veterans as the following figures demonstrate:
- 1,000 admissions per year to 45 acute beds
- 107,000 outpatient visits per year
- 5,000 emergency visits per year
- 600 inpatient consultations with 2,500 follow-up visits per year
Mental Health Programs
In order to deliver specialized care to a wide array of veteran patients, the MHCL has created eight mental health programs:
- Integrated Mental Health Program
- Trauma Recovery Program
- Geriatric Psychiatry Program
- Substance Dependence Treatment Program
- Psychosocial Rehabilitation Program
- Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program
- Special Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program
- Consult/Liaison Program
Integrated Mental Health Program
The Integrated Mental Health Program provides ongoing care in both inpatient and outpatient settings to veterans who have severe and persistent mental illness, including schizophrenia, manic-depressive illness (bipolar disorder), and other related disorders. The program's Psychiatric Evaluation and Admissions Clinic offers inpatient and outpatient evaluation and crisis services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Trauma Recovery Program
Recognizing the special risk of post traumatic stress disorder and related illnesses in the veteran population, the Trauma Recovery Program has a broad range of outpatient, day hospital, and acute inpatient services available for veterans suffering from PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Program staff works closely with the two Veterans Outreach Centers in Houston.
Sleep Disorders Clinic
Included within the Trauma Recovery Program is one of the country's longest-established sleep disorders units. The Sleep Disorders Clinic performs specialized evaluations of all types of sleep disorders, using the most up-to-date technology. The professional staff is nationally known for their expertise and research on sleep disorders.
Geriatric Psychiatry Program
The Geriatric Psychiatry Program is designed for the special needs of older veterans with mental health problems. A thorough medical evaluation, careful consideration of medications, and specialized psychological evaluation and treatment are available in inpatient and outpatient settings with community follow-up by an outreach nurse.
Substance Dependence Treatment Program
The Substance Dependence Treatment Program offers three levels of care for drug, nicotine and alcohol use disorders, inpatient and outpatient detoxification, and opiate replacement treatment. The clinic is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and patients are enrolled immediately upon application. Staff works as a team to provide top-quality, individualized treatment to the recovering veteran.
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Program
For those veterans with severe mental illness who have been repeatedly hospitalized and have not responded to usual treatments, the Psychosocial Rehabilitation Program offers partial hospitalization, residential rehabilitation, and assertive community treatment. The goal is to help veterans change their social behavior so that they may live successfully in a community setting.
Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program
Staff in the Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program seek out homeless veterans in the community, evaluate their physical and mental healthcare needs, and link them with VA and community services to take care of those needs. The program gives special emphasis to the needs of the homeless chronically mentally ill, and provides supportive housing options for eligible homeless veterans.
Special Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program
The Specialized Evaluation and Rehabilitation Program provides a variety of psychological services to veterans. These services include psychological testing, neuropsychological assessment, and vocational rehabilitation. SERP also provides specialized psychological services to the Spinal Cord Injury Care Line including psychological assessment, testing, and individual psychotherapy.
The key function of the Consult/Liaison Program is liaison - whether the connection is to a non-psychiatric service within the hospital or to veterans and agencies in the community. The program consists of the following sub-sections:
Consult/Liaison Psychiatry Service. Provides diagnostic evaluation, brief treatment, (medication management, and psychotherapy) referral to inpatients on non-psychiatric beds, outpatients in primary care (the Behavioral Medicine Clinic), and outpatients in The Women's Clinic.
Community Support Section. Coordinates community outreach efforts in Mental Health Services. The CSS was established to develop initiatives and partnerships with other agencies to provide veterans with services closer to home. The CSS also works to expand home-based and community-based services to veterans enrolled in our mental health programs.
Liaison to the MEDVAMC Chronic Pain Center. Provides a psychologist experienced in the treatment of chronic pain to the multidisciplinary pain center. In addition to assessment services, individual and group psychotherapy is offered as well as education, relaxation and various behavioral modes of treatment (biofeedback, relaxation techniques, etc.).