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Twelve years ago, when McLean recognized an increasing demand for integrated and specialized psychiatric care for young people, the hospital and the leadership of its child and adolescent services jumped into action and began expanding programs to meet the needs of the community. As a result, today, these services are among the hospital’s most utilized, and in 2011, in keeping with McLean’s strategic plan to create programmatically-based centers of excellence and innovation, the Nancy and Richard Simches Center of Excellence in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (NRSDCAP) was established.
“The divisional structure allows for deeper integration across all of our levels of care and geographic sites in Belmont, Brighton, and Brockton,” said Joseph Gold, MD, chief of the NRSDCAP. “Perhaps most important, by combining all aspects of the McLean Child and Adolescent Program into a unified division, clinicians and researchers can easily collaborate, enabling a knowledge exchange that enhances patient care.”
Made possible thanks to a $3.3 million gift from Nancy Simches and her late husband Richard, the NRSDCAP marks McLean’s fourth division and a key milestone in its strategic plan goal.
“There is no other place like McLean, where treatment, research, and education are so intertwined,” said Nancy, who was trained as a social worker and understands that mental illness, left untreated, does not get better. “We hope our gift sets an example that can be built upon and that will help more children at the earliest possible time.”
Gold, who concurrently serves as the hospital’s chief medical officer, noted that the division is already providing new opportunities for enhanced collaborations between clinicians, mentors, and researchers whose focus is on children and adolescents.
Along with key leaders within McLean’s child and adolescent programs, Gold has formed a team over the past 12 years to assess each program, as well as the needs of patients, families and the community. Through this thoughtful process, the hospital’s child and adolescent programs have been revitalized and expanded to serve thousands of patients and families annually.
“The Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division signifies our commitment to better integrate clinical services across multiple sites and to grow the research components of our program in the same way that we have dramatically grown clinical services and teaching,” said Gold. “This will allow the division to evolve into a true, quantitatively demonstrated center of excellence.”
Aaron Bornstein, MD, a pediatrician in a thriving practice in Lakeville, Massachusetts, believes that identifying and treating childhood behavioral and emotional issues early improves the lives of his patients and their families. That is why he and his partners in their pediatrics group regularly turn to the McLean Hospital mental health clinicians who serve as consultants through the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Program (MCPAP).
“We’re focused on early intervention and treating problems before they become a significant issue,” said Bornstein. “MCPAP allows us to manage our patients’ mental health needs more effectively.”
Established in 2006, MCPAP is a system of regional child and adolescent mental health consultation teams designed to support primary care providers in meeting the needs of children with various psychiatric problems. Charles Moore, MD, is the medical director of McLean’s MCPAP hub in Brockton, serving southeastern Massachusetts, the Cape and Islands.
“Through MCPAP, we—psychiatrists and other mental health professionals—are empowering primary care physicians with the clinical backup they need to provide quality psychiatric care in their own offices,” said Moore. “They phone us with a question about one of their patients and we’re able to immediately provide them with the information they need.”
According to Bornstein, he calls the MCPAP team up to 10 times a month with requests ranging from locating the appropriate mental health resources for families to asking about medications and for second opinions. “MCPAP is the best and most valuable psychiatric resource we have and it has made a world of difference to our practice and to our patients.”
Bornstein said he once approached MCPAP to obtain a second opinion about a 12-year-old girl who he suspected had been misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder.
“After a full consultation, my hunch was confirmed and we took her off any medication she had been taking to treat the illness,” said Bornstein. “Her behavior changed for the better, and the family called me to tell me how much life had improved for her and for them. MCPAP helped transform that family’s life. That’s a life saved. That’s MCPAP.”