Spotlight: Emily Guthrie

Emily was born and raised in Omaha. She graduated from Xenon International with a degree in Cosmetology. Emily joined the Intensive Outpatient Program in 2018 as the IOP’s first medical

Why did you choose to work for the Department of Psychiatry?
I chose to work for psychiatry when my previous employer closed their Omaha location. I interviewed at a few different places, but once I met with Maggie and Cindy I knew this would be the right place for me. This is my first medical job and I’m very thankful to have this opportunity! I had no idea how much I would love it.

What are your duties with the Intensive Outpatient Program?
My duties within the IOP include coordinating the referrals that come in, scheduling, tracking data for the clinic, and taking care of the ins and outs of the front desk. I also help in the Addiction clinic. As these clinics are evolving and expanding, my duties are as well.

What are the main goals of the IOP?
The main goal of the IOP is to help support individuals with co-occurring disorders who require more support than weekly or monthly outpatient services provide. We assist patients in finding the strength and skills to achieve sustained sobriety, and provide medication assisted treatment to help support in increasing their success rate of sobriety.

What do you like about psychiatry?
Seeing our patient’s improvement. Since the IOP is four days a week for six weeks, we see them almost daily and it’s so encouraging to see their growth and improvement from when they began the program and when they graduate

What are some of your hobbies?
Anything nature related! I have a love for plants and a huge green thumb. I love to be outside whether it’s running, hiking, gardening, you name it.

Dr. Sheritta Strong set to receive 2019 College of Medicine Early Career Achievement Award

Dr. Sheritta Strong has been honored with the 2019 College of Medicine Early Career Achievement Award.

The award is given by the UNMC College of Medicine Alumni Council to an alumnus who has demonstrated marked achievement and contributions to the field of medicine in the first twenty years of his or her career.

Dr. Strong graduated from UNMC in 2004 and stayed in Omaha to complete her residency. After finishing her residency, she joined the UNMC faculty as an instructor before being promoted to assistant professor.

As the co-director of Medical Student Education in the department, Dr. Strong serves in many roles in the education of junior medical students including assisting in the teaching of basic interview skills, and she has been running the pre-clinical psychiatry course in psychiatry for the past nine years. Regarding resident education, she serves as a faculty supervisor and psychotherapy supervisor.

Dr. Strong is the Faculty Advisor and Mentor to the student-led group called G.R.A.D.S. (graduates and professional achieving diversity and service), which is an inclusive campus-wide group of students that serves as a co-mentoring group. Other activities on campus include her roles as the S.H.A.R.I.N.G. Clinic Faculty Board Chairman and the Director for the Psychiatry Night. She also cares for patients in the Family Medicine clinic.

Staying active in the community is also her passion, as she is a member of multiple community service organizations, with close ties to mentees at UNO and serves as the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization (PTSO) secretary for this academic year.

Dr. Sharon Hammer honored by the State of Nebraska

Dr. Sharon Hammer poses with her Medicaid Provider Award. Gov. Ricketts named Dr. Hammer as one of three recipients of the inaugural Nebraska Medicaid Provider Award.

This summer, Sharon Hammer, M.D. was honored by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts for her excellence and innovation in delivering services to Nebraska Medicaid recipients.

Gov. Ricketts named Dr. Hammer as one of three recipients of the inaugural Nebraska Medicaid Provider Award. Dr. Hammer was recognized for the establishment of the state’s first psychiatric service line dedicated solely to the assessment and care of women during the perinatal period. The UNMC Reproductive Psychiatry Clinic was established over a ten-year period of focused work providing evidence-based care to this vulnerable population and developing the clinic into an interdisciplinary group of mental health providers dedicated to perinatal women throughout the region.

“Medicaid covers almost half of deliveries in Nebraska, and the proportion of Medicaid coverage for maternity care is even higher at UNMC, making this a priority population for the state,” Dr. Hammer said. “The Reproductive Psychiatry Clinic is dedicated to educating psychiatry residents on best practices for the assessment and treatment of perinatal patients thereby improving the mental health care of Nebraska’s pregnant and postpartum women well into the future.”

Dr. Hammer graduated from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. She returned to UNMC in 2006 and joined the UNMC faculty as an assistant professor. Dr. Hammer is the co-director of Medical Student Education for the Department of Psychiatry and serves as the Psychiatry Clerkship Director.

Dr. Henry Sakowski, an internal medicine specialist at CHI Health Center, and Dr. Rebecca Lancaster, a family physician with Methodist Physicians Clinic, were also honored with the Nebraska Medicaid Provider Award.

Department stays ahead of new BH trends

The Department of Psychiatry continues to look at new ways to increase patient access to quality care.

Dr. David Cates, Vice-Chair for Clinical Services in the Department of Psychiatry, says there are a lot of national trends that predict more patients needing psychiatric care.

Dr. Howard Liu, M.D. Chair, Department of Psychiatry

Dr. Cates said SG2, a national healthcare consulting group, published a report in 2018 which projects 26 percent growth in demand for outpatient behavioral health services, including 45 percent growth in Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) services and 30 percent growth in Partial Hospital (day treatment) care. Also, SG2 projects 10 percent growth in demand for inpatient behavioral health services over the next ten years.

“It is reassuring that many of SG2’s recommended strategies align with the steps that Nebraska Medicine and UNMC have taken or are considering taking, including expanding IOP and PHP services, creating medical-psychiatric inpatient beds, developing ED-based psychiatric services, and embedding behavioral health providers in specialty care clinics,” Dr. Cates said.

Tom Macy, Vice President of Operations at Nebraska Medicine, said UNMC/Nebraska Medicine would continue to increase their ambulatory footprint in both psychiatry and psychology. In 2018, the two partners teamed up to open an Intensive Outpatient Clinic – to treat the dual diagnosis of patients suffering from mental health and substance use disorders. In 2020, Nebraska Medicine will open a Psychiatry Emergency Services (PES) unit.

“The PES (unit) will be an adjunct to the emergency department for patients whose behavioral health issues are at a point where they need to be seen in an emergency setting,” Macy said.

The current projection is that the PES will begin seeing patients on July 1, 2020. It is intended to rapidly evaluate, triage and offer crisis stabilization services to patients, many of whom will not require inpatient psychiatric admission.

David Cates, Ph.D., Vice-Chair of Clinical Services, Department of Psychiatry

“The metaphor is a compassionate train station,” says Dr. Howard Liu, Chair of Psychiatry at UNMC. “The Psych Emergency won’t be the final destination for patients, but it will safely take them where they need to go. It will be staffed by behavioral health professionals and work in partnership with services in the community.”

While opening two new floors in three years sounds like a lot, it’s just a fraction of what behavioral health leadership at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine are considering. Current and future projects under consideration include emergency department-based psychiatric services, partial hospitalization treatment, and IOP programs as an alternative to inpatient admission as well as the creation of a med-psych unit and the growth of interventional psychiatry (ECT, TMS, Ketamine).

Dr. Cates said TMS and ECT are particular growth areas with geriatric psychiatry patients due to drug interactions. National trends point to an almost 60 percent growth in geriatric emergency room visits over the next ten years.

“We are going to continue to expand,” Macy said. “We have plans for more psychiatry services, psychological services, and more counseling services. We want to be prepared for these trends.”


Psychiatry Department supports Out of the Darkness walk

Celeste Akers and Bonnie Dollen from the Department of Psychiatry work the info booth at the Out of the Darkness Walk.

More than a dozen Department of Psychiatry staff members walked together on Sept. 8 to raise awareness and funds that allow the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) to invest in new research, create educational programs, advocate for public policy, and support survivors of suicide loss.

Nearly 6,000 people participated in the Out of the Darkness Walk at Lewis & Clark Landing in Omaha. More than 60 staff members from Nebraska Medicine signed up to help the important cause.

“I think our Nebraska Medicine/UNMC team had a good showing at this event because suicide prevention and support for people who have lost someone to suicide is a very important issue to many of our employees across the different departments, not just the behavioral health service line,” said Celeste Akers, lead community services technician. “Almost everyone who participated in the event has personally or professionally known someone who tragically died by suicide, whether it was a family member, co-worker, child’s friend, or former patient.”

Akers added that the Nebraska Medicine team met their fundraising goal of $2,000 to contribute to the cause of suicide prevention education and support.

“This walk is an important way to not only bring awareness and education about suicide prevention efforts and mental health support resources to the community at large, but also a way to show solidarity for supporting those who have experienced a loss due to suicide,” Akers said. “This year’s turnout of an estimated 6,000 registered participants is a testament in itself as to how important this issue is to our entire community.”