Hope Center brings psychiatric mental health to Vail Valley with telemedicine | VailDaily.com

Hope Center brings psychiatric mental health to Vail Valley with telemedicine

Hope Center recently announced its addition of telepsych services for the Vail Valley. The program will provide access to experienced psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners from the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Depression Center at the University of Colorado. Teleconferences can be scheduled within 48 hours to ensure callers get the help they need when they need it.

“Telemedicine is becoming more widely known and accepted,” said Michelle Meuthing, executive director of Hope Center, in a release. “It’s especially useful in a rural setting like ours where it’s more difficult to get psychiatric services. Access is critical to preventing a crisis, and we’re hoping this is a service people will take advantage of.”

Currently, there is only one licensed psychiatrist in Eagle County. In addition, the community has only one third as many counselors as other communities across the state. These, and other gaps in behavioral health care, have prompted a group of local community stakeholders to address the needs by forming a new nonprofit, Eagle Valley Behavioral Health. Meuthing has been instrumental in the planning of this initiative and worked with Eagle County Public Health to secure funds for the telepsych program from the Katz Amsterdam Foundation.

“Change is a community effort,” Meuthing said. “Hope Center is proud to play a part in transforming the behavioral health landscape in the Eagle River Valley. The telepsych program is one solution for addressing our community’s mental health needs before they become a crisis.”

Hope Center opened its doors in Eagle County in September 2018 after leaders from local law enforcement agencies and Eagle County Paramedic Services came together to address a failing crisis response system.

“When we lost a 13-year-old girl from our community to suicide, we knew we had to make dramatic changes,” said Eagle County Paramedic Services CEO Chris Montera. “We saw the great work Hope Center was doing in the Roaring Fork Valley, and we urged our Board of Directors to support a program here. They graciously came forward with $100,000 to bring a Hope Center to Eagle County.”

Since then, Hope Center has already conducted nearly 200 crisis evaluations. They have also helped bring seven school-based counselors to the Eagle River Valley with funding from Eagle County Schools and Eagle County mental health dollars.

Hope Center aims to increase the number of psychiatrists in the valley so it’s easier to make in-person appointments with a specialist. Eagle Valley’s new behavioral health nonprofit also plans to address this need, thanks in large part to a $60 million commitment from Vail Health. In the meantime, starting May 1, Hope Center’s telepsychiatric NPs will be available for virtual appointments to provide psychiatric medication evaluations and medication management. Patients must be 15 and older, and services will be offered on a sliding scale fee.

“Our goal is to reduce the barriers to mental health care,” Meuthing said. “Data has shown people like using telehealth services like these. We live in an age of technology. It’s one of the ways people get their information and interact. If they can’t meet with a professional face-to-face, this is a good option for getting care.”

Appointments with Hope Center’s telepsych team can be scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays starting May 1. To schedule an appointment, call (970) 306-4673 (HOPE).