March 29, 2021
St. Peter’s Health announced today that it is the first health care system in the state of Montana to partner with Frontier OnCall to provide telepsychiatry services. Billings-based Frontier Psychiatry is Montana’s largest and most comprehensive all-virtual psychiatry practice.
The locally informed, on-demand telepsychiatry solution will be available to members of the St. Peter’s Health Mobile Crisis Response Team (for patients of all ages) and clinicians in the St. Peter’s Health emergency department and pediatric unit for patients under the age of 18 experiencing a behavioral health crisis. The service will be available daily from 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
“St. Peter’s Health is committed to providing comprehensive mental health care at the right place, the right time, and by the right person,” said St. Peter’s Health Senior Inpatient Nursing Director Kari Koehler, MSN, RN. “This new program will give clinicians – mental health professionals, nurses, and physicians – immediate access to highly skilled psychiatrists, so we can deliver the highest quality care and achieve the best outcomes.” The program start-up at St. Peter’s Health is funded by Lewis and Clark County and the State of Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Koehler emphasizes that the St. Peter’s Health Mobile Crisis Response Team, a group of mental health professionals that work closely with law enforcement to respond to behavioral health crises in the community, will have access to psychiatrists through this new program while in the field. This real-time access will elevate the care level that people experiencing a crisis will receive outside of the hospital to help reduce emergency department visits and detention center admissions.
St. Peter’s Health also shares that the program will build on existing support in the healthcare system’s emergency department and pediatric unit for youth experiencing a behavioral health crisis. For example, the organization already has a partnership in place with Intermountain to provide counseling services for hospitalized pediatric patients. “We saw 21 youth under 18 experiencing a behavioral health crisis in our emergency department over a ten-day period in February of this year. This program will provide access to a higher level of care for pediatric patients in crisis and help us determine the next best step for their care and healing,” said Koehler.
According to Frontier Psychiatry’s CEO Dr. Eric Arzubi, “Over the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the uptake of telemedicine. Moreover, the pandemic has only served to deepen Montana’s mental health crisis. There has never been a better time to launch this critical service.”
While St. Peter’s Health is the first hospital to implement this program with Frontier Psychiatry, plans are to bring the program to emergency departments and urgent care facilities across Montana. The Montana Mental Health Trust provided critical seed funding that made the joint venture possible.
According to Dr. Arzubi, “for about 40 years, Montana has been posting the country’s worst suicide statistics. It’s clear that relying solely on old ways of delivering mental health services doesn’t work. We have to play offense and be creative when it comes to tackling our state’s mental health crisis. We have a responsibility to use every tool at our disposal to make high-quality care available to all Montanans.”
About Frontier Psychiatry, PLLC
Frontier Psychiatry, PLLC has subspecialists available in child/adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, and emergency psychiatry. Currently, it supports the psychiatric needs of over 20 healthcare organizations across Montana, adding valued partners every week. The team’s clinical depth allows them to deliver telepsychiatry services across the care continuum, from primary care-based integration to emergency services.
About St. Peter’s Health
St. Peter’s Health is a system of health care services including a 99-bed acute care hospital, physician clinics, cancer treatment center, 24-bed behavioral health unit, urgent care clinics, home health and hospice care, dialysis center and ambulance services. St. Peter’s Health serves the Helena region and southwest Montana counties of Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Jefferson, Meagher and Powell, with a combined population of approximately 97,000 residents. The mission of St. Peter’s Health is to partner with patients and the community to provide exceptional and compassionate health care. For more information, visit sphealth.org.
About Montana Hospital Association
The Montana Hospital Association (MHA) is a nonprofit organization with more than eighty members that provide the full spectrum of health care services, including hospital inpatient and outpatient services, skilled nursing facilities, home health, hospice, physician services, assisted living, senior housing and insurance services. MHA is the principal advocate for the interests of its members in their efforts to improve the health status of the communities they serve and to make Montana a “Top 10 Healthy State.”