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By Richard Asinof
PROVIDENCE – In a new cross-system initiative, Care New England has expanded its psychiatric services with an outpatient consultation program, creating a system-wide way for referring physicians who have patients in need of a consult, hospital officials announced last week.
The program was successfully piloted at Women & Infants Hospital and Kent Hospital, and is now being expanded by Butler Hospital to all referring physicians.
The impetus for the program is the fact that a significant percentage of patients seen in medical and surgical offices today are suffering from psychiatric problems that require professional attention, hospital officials said. However, getting an appointment for an evaluation in a psychiatrist’s office can take months, and the region has a dearth of outpatient psychiatric services available to patients.
“This outpatient psychiatric consultation service is an attempt to explore a model that might begin to address these needs,” said Dr. Michael Fiori, one of the consulting physicians. “The hope is that this will enable patients who might not otherwise seek help for their emotional and psychiatric problems to be more comfortable getting treatment.”