Friday, February 12, 2016

The Support of a Leader to Help Redesign the Maryland Mental Health Care System

Earlier this week, I had the privilege to participate in a roundtable discussion, spearheaded by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), that dealt with the challenges of mental health care in the United States. Joining me in representing GBMC were JoAnn Z. Ioannou, DNP, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, our Senior Vice President of Patient Care and Chief Nursing Officer, Robbin Motter-Mast, DO our Chair of Family Medicine and Jeffrey P. Sternlicht, MD, FACEP, Chair of our Department of Emergency Medicine.

The roundtable consisted of many physicians, hospital administrators, community mental health care advocates and providers that discussed ways to improve our mental health care system. The lack of adequate inpatient psychiatric beds and a well-functioning crisis intervention system has gotten the attention of many. Every day in the GBMC Emergency Department, for example, we house 5-12 people who are living there waiting for a psychiatric bed.  The panel’s discussion was led by Dr. Steven Sharfstein, the President and CEO of the Sheppard Pratt Healthcare System. The group discussed the nature of the problem and  potential ways to overcome the many hurdles to delivering the best possible care in cases of mental illness and substance abuse in Maryland and across the nation.

I applaud Sen Cardin’s dedication to reforming mental health care and for treating this as an unwavering priority for our nation.  I look forward to helping the Senator make sure that Americans who require mental health care services have access to them.

Recognition for 10 Years of Great Education
Many years ago, the Executive Director for our Center for Spiritual Support Training, The Rev. Joseph Hart, M.Div., BCC, along with a few of his colleagues, gathered around to examine the issue of ministry preparedness, and its future, in a changing world.  Joe and his group started to look at ways they could impact the larger community and how as a community medical center we could respond not only to the spiritual needs of those who come to us for care, but also to those in need of a clinically challenging educational program, but for whom Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) programs were not an option.  Well, Joe and his group came up with a new option and that alternative is now approaching a major milestone…its 10th anniversary.

I congratulate Joe and his group in celebrating our Center for Spiritual Training program’s longevity and success.  When it first started it was a 10 week, 40-hour curriculum and it has always received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students. Students have come from a variety of faith traditions as well as vocations, both lay and ordained.  In 2015, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland approached the Center to explore the possibility that our program could serve as an alternative to CPE for Diaconal Candidates.  In response to their idea, Joe and his team expanded the classes from 10 weeks to 30 and included a broader range of topics. With the approval of the Bishop, we welcomed 5 individuals in the fall of 2014 and they graduated last spring.  Again, lets congratulate Joe, his team and program graduates not only for their 10 years of valuable service and successes, but, for being such a model educational program!

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