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Pediatric Behavioral Consult Line expands hours, services

Oct. 25, 2018, 9:06 AM

by Kelsey Herbers

Thanks to a collaborative effort between the Vanderbilt Health Affiliated Network, Population Health and Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, the Pediatric Behavioral Consult Line recently made expanded hours and services available for the network’s pediatricians.

Previously only operating from 1 to 3 p.m. on a call-back basis, the line now provides pediatricians who have a child or teen in their practice experiencing behavioral or emotional difficulties with real-time access to a licensed clinical social worker for clinical guidance between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. CST Monday through Friday.

Expanded resources are also in place to leverage the expertise of Vanderbilt’s child and adolescent psychiatrists, depending on the request and identified need. The social worker can connect the pediatrician with a psychiatrist, provide written recommendations, assist with crisis intervention and treatment planning and work with the practice to create a follow-up plan if needed. Level of care determinations, safety planning, assessments and psychoeducation can also be provided.

“Together, the social worker and physician evaluate the acuity of a patient’s behavioral health concern and the urgency of intervention,” said Elizabeth Pierce, MD, pediatric medical director for the network. “The social worker can facilitate the referral to an appropriate level of care, and the physician can request a timely return call from a child psychiatrist to discuss possible medication.”

Since the expanded line’s initial rollout in April, Vanderbilt Behavioral Health has received 130 pediatric behavioral health consults — of which 10 percent included a medication consult with the psychiatry team — by network physicians.

According to Vanessa Howe, LCSW, who is among the team of social workers responding to requests received through the line, the previous line only received several calls per month due to multiple factors including limited access.

“The real-time access of this service line has been integral to the program’s success,” said Howe. “Not only has it helped to improve overall access to behavioral health, but it has also improved the patient experience by providing pediatricians real-time support and guidance when a patient presents with a behavioral health crisis in their office.”

“Supporting the pediatricians on the front line, most of whom are screening their patients for behavioral health concerns, is a big step toward improving the quality of care, and, long term, the mental and emotional health of children, teens and young adults,” Pierce added.

For more information, pediatricians can access the “Provider Resources” guide on the network’s website,

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