GRANVILLE — Three rural medical centers are adding psychiatric nurses to help patients treat illnesses without having to repeatedly drive all the way to Glens Falls Hospital.
“The biggest barriers to good care are having people to provide that care, and transportation,” said Dr. Kevin Gallagher, who works at the Granville Medical Center. “The need is there. All providers have a list.”
They are excited to soon be able to tell their patients that they can meet with a nurse at their regular medical center, he said.
Nurses will start taking patients in late fall at four locations: the medical centers in Granville, Greenwich, Cambridge and Corinth. All are run by Glens Falls Hospital. At the Granville Medical Center, a recent expansion project made room for the nurse, as well as additional space for counseling and regular exam rooms.
Mental illnesses aren’t simple to treat, and it can take time to develop a plan that works for each patient. Once a treatment plan has been established, patients need regular follow-up visits, annual medical checks to make sure their dosages are still correct, and occasional help during a crisis.
And for most patients, the only place to get help has been Glens Falls Hospital.
It can add up to a lot of driving.
“These people that are in need may need multiple visits,” Gallagher said. “It’s 45 minutes to Glens Falls Hospital. I’ve been doing the drive to Granville for a dozen years and let me tell you, the weather can be a definite barrier.”
Some patients also don’t have a car — or share a car with another family member. Other patients need to get treatment quickly, so that they can get to work or pick up a child after school.
In those cases, medical professionals say the patients all too often decide to postpone going to Glens Falls for treatment.
“Sometimes they don’t have a ride, so they might not get care at all,” said Glens Falls Hospital Vice President Patti Hammond. “Obviously, they don’t get better.”
The psychiatric nurse will also be a resource for doctors who would otherwise have to send patients to Glens Falls for crisis management.
“I had that happen last month,” Gallagher said.
One of his patients was in crisis. With no psychiatric nurse at the medical center, he transported the patient to Glens Falls.
“A psychiatric nurse can be really crucial,” he said, explaining that the nurse could meet with the patient and determine a course of action right away. That action could be to send the patient to the Glens Falls crisis center, but other options include connecting the patient with resources regarding domestic abuse, prescribing or changing medication, and scheduling counseling sessions.
At Granville Junior/Senior High School, nurse Brooke Hover was delighted by the news.
She plans to tell parents about the program.
“I think it’s definitely helpful to have something just a few miles away,” she said. “In some instances there are transportation issues.”
The psychiatric nurse will help with issues ranging from ADHD to severe mental illness, for children and adults.