Expanded Behavioral Healthcare for Children to be Offered
SalusCare, Inc., announced plans today to expand children’s outpatient behavioral health treatment this summer, enabling the non-profit to potentially treat up to 1,000 more children and adolescents and reduce wait times for appointments.
Two child psychiatrists and two pediatricians have accepted positions with SalusCare with start dates expected this summer. The four new positions are in addition to six more physicians and ARNPs that have been hired by SalusCare to treat adults with mental health and substance use disorders that also are expected to start work during the next three months.
The additional staffing for children’s outpatient healthcare will allow SalusCare to start accepting children as new patients starting July 13.
“We have been searching for quite some time to recruit more medical personnel to our team to meet increased demand for services, especially among children,” said SalusCare CEO Kevin B. Lewis. “We anticipate that we will be able to see patients more quickly with less wait time between appointments as well as offer the consistency of seeing the same physician during each visit.”
Medical services for children and adolescents have been a critical issue for SalusCare during the past year as doctor capacity decreased to less than one FTE (full-time equivalent). Wait times for appointments stretched to as much as four months. In response, SalusCare added an ARNP and increased the existing doctor’s hours to reach the equivalent of 2.0 FTEs.
“Physician recruitment has been difficult throughout the country. We have been very aggressive in attempting to attract more medical providers to our organization,” Lewis said.
SalusCare treated 1,960 youngsters on an outpatient basis last year. When the new recruits are on board, Lewis said SalusCare may be able to see as many as 1,000 more children and adolescents.
“The addition of these medical providers – especially the doctors specializing in the care of children and adolescents – is a wonderful development for Southwest Florida. Looking forward to the new providers joining us shortly, this will become an exciting time, not just for SalusCare but for the entire area,” said SalusCare Chief Medical Officer and Chief Operating Officer Dr. Don Baracskay.
Mental health treatment is a major unmet community need. According to the National Institutes of Health, one in five youth ages 13 to 18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year. For ages 8 to 15, the estimate is 13 percent. The American Journal of Psychiatry reports that 75 to 80 percent of children and youth in need of mental health services do not receive them.
The new physicians will start at SalusCare in June, July and August and should be on board prior to the beginning of school on August 24 when demand normally increases, Baracskay said.