A Creative New Position at Gratiot Fills the Gaps
Patients in medical settings often experience life changing events and could benefit from counseling services prior to discharge. In fact, research shows that offering psychotherapy to patients on medical floors is likely to shorten their length of stay and increase patient satisfaction. With that, there is a national trend toward offering this service within medical facilities. As MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot is a smaller rural hospital; the resources to hire a full-time person for this type of position were not available. So, a creative approach was taken to meet this need.
The Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization Program at MidMichigan Medical Center – Gratiot is an intensive outpatient day program for mental health service that was established in 1994. Because of the unique approach of such a day program, staffing the program has always been a challenge; at times having two staff and at times having a third part time staff. With just two staff assigned to this program for the past several years, this created difficulty with covering sickness, vacation and training. But, again, resources would not support a full-time hire.
Another struggle for the two-member staff of the program was spending adequate time connecting with the medical and mental health community to ensure awareness of the program so that there is appropriate utilization of these services.
Combining these three needs, the leadership at the Medical Center in Alma created a unique position that is part therapist, part marketing and part outreach. This position was filled in November by Michelle Lucchesi, M.A., who joined Will Thomas, M.A., and Louise St. John, R.N., staff of Gratiot’s Partial Psych Program.
Lucchesi was uniquely qualified for this position having worked as the therapist in Partial Program from 1996 until 1998 and, most recently, as contingent therapist for the program since 2003. She also has had experience as an individual therapist in outpatient setting and inpatient setting, and experience with marketing.
After six weeks with the new staff in place, St. John says, “Adding a third staff member to our team has increased our ability tenfold to respond to patients needs in our program and throughout the Medical Center in a timely manner. We can respond to anything quickly, instead of having to wait to see if we can get to it. It has made everything more relaxed, and we can accomplish what needs to be done for our patients. And it has increased safety for our patients and staff.”
This new position is an example of the cooperation and creative problem solving promoted by the Gratiot leadership to meet the unique demands of our rural setting.The Psychiatric Partial Hospitalization program accepts voluntary admissions via self, community or physician referral. For referral information, call (989) 466-3253 or (800) 392-7652. To learn more about insurance acceptance for the program, call (989) 466-3253.