SPOTLIGHT: Troyia Anderson helps get PES up and running

Before becoming a nurse in the Adult Psychiatric Emergency Services unit, Troyia spent 10 years working in the jail system, and she has a degree in Criminal Justice. Troyia is a three-time graduate from College of Saint Mary, and graduated with a post masters certificate in nursing December 2019 from UNMC, where she is pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree.

Troyia’s past nursing experience includes managing two psychiatric residential treatment facilities for a local healthcare organization, teaching mental health nursing for two local universities, women’s health (antepartum, postpartum, GYN), and for the last two years she worked as an intensive care nurse.

What made you apply to work at UNMC/Nebraska Medicine?
I’m new to the NM family as of June 2020. I’m extremely excited to be apart of opening the PES and look forward to continuing a lifelong career here at NM. 

How have the first few months of the PES gone?
We have used the first few months of opening PES to explore our opportunities and continue working on our strengths to ensure we are fully prepared to open to the public once that time comes. 

Why is the PES important to the community?
PES is important to the community because it helps bridge the gap for patients experiencing a mental health crisis in a timely manner. Perhaps this person does not necessarily need inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and needs additional outpatient resources and referrals. The space in PES also provides a therapeutic and safe environment for our patients that is free from the hustle and bustle of the medical ER and affords the medical ER the opportunity to keep space for patients who have strictly medical needs. 

What do you love about working in behavioral health?
My goal is to help destigmatize mental illness. I want individuals to understand how mental health impacts our ability to cope and function just as a physical illness may. I want people to understand that it does not discriminate and could be any of us or a loved one. 

What are some of your hobbies?
My hobbies include traveling, shopping, and spending time with my family and two fur babies. 

Addiction Fellow set to join UNMC faculty

UNMC successfully applied for and received approval for an ACGME accredited Addiction Medicine Fellowship in 2019, and so far, it’s been a major success.

Claudia Moore, MD, started her one-year fellowship in July 2020 after working in emergency medicine. She said she has gained a significant amount of knowledge and skill in treating addiction from her new colleagues.

“Addiction medicine is an immensely rewarding specialty that combines aspects of internal medicine, pharmacology, and psychiatry, among others,” Dr. Moore said. “How to practice varies so people from all sorts of backgrounds can find their niche.”

During her nine months as a fellow, Dr. Moore said she has enjoyed learning ways to treat patients dealing with substance use disorders and further developing the fellowship. 

“As our division grows, it will become even more of a rich training ground for new fellows,” Dr. Moore said. “We are unique in our integration of addiction medicine and addiction psychiatry, and I expect us to become one of the premier programs in our region.”

To continue to grow the fellowship and the addiction division, Dr. Moore accepted a faculty role in the Department of Psychiatry. She will join the department full-time in July as an Associate Professor.

“There will be the chance to have clinic patients of my own,” she said. “I will also be helping to build a quick access clinic meant for patients seen in the main ED and the PES (psychiatric emergency department). My background in GME will let me work with the directors of the residency and fellowships to ensure our programs are continuing to not only meet but exceed requirements and expectations. And there are almost endless opportunities to teach at UNMC and Nebraska Medicine as well as in the community and region.”

 The fellowship will continue after Dr. Moore joins the faculty. Dr. Ken Zoucha, program director for the addiction medicine fellowship, and the Psychiatry Department at UNMC are currently recruiting for the next Addiction Medicine fellow. Applications are being accepted now for the coming academic year and beyond.

Clinical Therapists adjust amid COVID-19 pandemic

One year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot has changed for the clinical therapists in the Department of Psychiatry.

In March 2020, when patients were no longer allowed inside Poynter Hall, therapists adjusted and started setting up telehealth appointments. Debi Pittock, LICSW, Lead Social Worker for the department, said telehealth has gone better than anyone could have predicted.  For patients, who couldn’t find enough time to drive to UNMC and see a therapist in person, we’re able to set aside an hour for a meeting on Zoom. Therapists could remind patients who forget they had an appointment, and the patients could immediately log onto their telehealth appointment.

“The team quickly figured it out and rolled with the punches, and so did our patients. We wanted to meet patients where they were at and make sure everyone was staying safe,” Pittock said. “It’s tough for our patients to get to (Poynter Hall) in general. With parking, you have to carve out an hour and a half every week. We do have some staff and patients who are chomping at the bit to get back in person, but for the most part, most of our patients and staff are excited to keep doing telehealth.”

Pittock added that telehealth did provide some challenges and may provide even more down the road. In the past year, therapists have had to develop non-verbal ways for patients to speak with their therapist to guarantee privacy outside of the therapists’ office. Pittock said across the nation, therapists have found has found workarounds so people can remain safe.

In the past year, therapists have also volunteered for the Peers in Need of Support (PiNs) program.

“As PiNS volunteers, they have reached out to and assisted countless Nebraska Medicine and UNMC colleagues in managing the myriad sources of stress associated with providing health care during the pandemic,” said David Cates, PhD, Vice-Chair for Clinical Services.

There will also be licensing challenges in the future if states toughen restrictions as the pandemic slows down. Pittock remains concerned that insurance companies will stop covering sessions if COVID-19 cases slow to the point where patients can return to in-person visits.

“The ‘what-next’ is unknown, but the therapists and I will adjust to any changes and continue to provide the behavioral health care for our patients,” Pittock said.

Dr. Ryan Edwards named Director of Child & Adolescent Division

Dr. Ryan Edwards, MD, has been named Director of the Child & Adolescent Division of the Department of Psychiatry after two years of leading the division on an interim basis.

“It has been a great pleasure working with Dr. Edwards as Interim Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Division Director, and I look forward to our continued collaboration as he takes on the permanent role,” said David Cates, PhD, Vice-Chair for Clinical Services. “The division has grown rapidly under his leadership, and I’m consistently impressed by Dr. Edwards’ curiosity, compassion, and inclusiveness in addressing the wide range of challenges inherent in a growing division.”

Dr. Edwards is a Board-Certified Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist. As a native Nebraskan, he earned his medical degree from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He then completed both his residency and post-graduate fellowship training at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His clinical interests include outpatient-based child & adolescent psychiatry, obsessive-compulsive disorder, complex anxiety disorders of childhood, and integrative and collaborative care across the healthcare discipline.

“I have had the pleasure of seeing Dr. Ryan Edwards’ leadership since he was the Psychiatry Student Interest Group president as a UNMC medical student,” said Howard Liu, MD, MBA, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry. “Then, I heard wonderful things about his growth as a psychiatry resident and child and adolescent psychiatry fellow from my colleagues at the University of Michigan.”

Dr. Edwards joined the department in 2017. He was promoted to Interim Director of the Child & Adolescent division in 2019.

“Since joining our faculty, Dr. Edwards has served admirably as interim division director for child and adolescent psychiatry, making it a welcoming home for therapists, psychologists, APRN’s and child psychiatrists,” Dr. Liu said. “I’m thrilled to welcome him as our Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Division Director as we meet the clinical, teaching, research, and community engagement needs of our community. He’s compassionate, creative, engaged, and just the clinician leader we need in our department!” 

Dr. Edwards discusses parenting during the pandemic.