Colusa County Department of Behavioral Health (CCBH) will now offer tele-medicine psychiatry services. It is the beginning of a two-year project funded by Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) Innovation. MHSA Innovation funding covers the cost of the equipment and provides the time to transition the child tele-psychiatry into a sustainable service in the future.
The Department has experienced significant growth in provided services to children and adults in the past two years. With the department’s Dr. Gerald Toribio being the only psychiatrist in the County, the ever increasing demand for services and being a small county the question became what was the best alternative to serve the needs of the community? “The department looked at three potential options; hiring a part-time psychiatrist, full time psychiatrist or tele-medicine psychiatry,” explained CCBH interim director William Cornelius. Given the costs associated with the first two options the Department chose to look at tele-psychiatry for children.
Studies have shown that children are much more accepting of interacting with a video monitor than adults. Nationally there are hundreds of programs similar that have provided services to rural and remote areas which have no psychiatric services any other way.
Child psychiatrists are a specialty within psychiatry and most are located in large metropolitan areas. Through video conferencing and use of the internet the child psychiatrist can see and hear the patient. The psychiatrist does not have to travel and neither do family members seeking this level of specialized care.
Stakeholder meetings were held late in 2011 after which the Mental Health Board approved the program. On May 29, 2012 the Board of Supervisors granted approval for Colusa County Behavioral Health to enter into an agreement with Kingsview Corporation to provide child tele-psychiatry. The special equipment had to be purchased and installed.
Cornelius commented that the first step is to move the children from Dr. Toribio’s current caseload onto the new program allowing him more time to provide services to the increasing number of adults. ■