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Yale Psychiatry trainees use telepsychiatry to reach patients in faraway places

January 25, 2018

Through the use of remote video technology, three Yale Department of Psychiatry trainees are providing diagnostic care, medication management, and supportive therapy to patients located miles away in Connecticut.

The trainees are the first participants in a new clinic based at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven that is using telepsychiatry – the delivery of psychiatric assessment and care through a live video feed – to reach patients at outpatient VA clinics in Waterbury, New London and Winsted, Conn.

On a recent Wednesday, Judah Weathers, MD, a clinical fellow in the Solnit Integrated Training Program at Yale, was patched through to a clinic in rural Winsted, a small town of roughly 7,300 people in northwestern Connecticut. Facing him on the screen was Loretta Braziel, the clinic’s telehealth technician, who contacts patients, checks them in, and makes them comfortable before they speak with the doctors.

Weathers and third-year psychiatry residents Lauren Schmidt, MD, and Nikhil Gupta, MBBS, are the first trainees to see patients in the clinic, which will expand this summer to include four third-year residents and one or two fourth-year residents. The trainees do their video conferencing from offices at Yale’s West Campus.

The clinic offers patients quality care, and provides the residents with a unique training opportunity.

“This is a new learning experience for the residents within the department,” said Eric Hermes, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale who is supervising the trainees. “We are trying to build the program.”

The resident clinic is supplementing work done by a New England Telemental Health hub led by David Moore, MD, which provides care from the VA in West Haven to sites across New England.

The West Haven VA also hosts the VA’s national office for telemental health led by Linda Godleski, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Yale. The program is the largest telemental health operation in the world, and is expanding to provide more services to patients through the use of evolving technology.

Submitted by Christopher Gardner on January 25, 2018