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Behavioral Health Clinical Services Center formed

Mar. 28, 2023, 9:00 AM


The Behavioral Health Clinical Services Center (CSC) has been developed over recent months by executive directors Stephan Heckers, MD, MSc, the William P. and Henry B. Test Professor of Schizophrenia Research and chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Mary Pawlikowski, MA, MEd, President of Vanderbilt Behavioral Health, along with other clinical department chairs participating in executive oversight.

Health care systems must concurrently address physical and behavioral health needs for an individual to be well. At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the need for behavioral health care services is not limited to one clinic or hospital. As a consequence, recruitment, training and supervision of mental health professionals is not limited to a single department or patient care center.

Professionals providing behavioral health services at VUMC include psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric advanced practice nurses and licensed mental health professionals, such as social workers and professional counselors. These professionals are found in clinics across VUMC’s health system and embedded in all hospitals.

“VUMC is committed to providing integrated, evidence-based, culturally-competent, and person-centered behavioral health care. Integrated behavioral health requires an interdisciplinary workforce,” said C. Wright Pinson, MBA, MD, Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Health system Officer. “The creation of the Behavioral Health Clinical Services Center is an essential strategy to increase behavioral health integration, coordination and consultation across settings while providing our workforce with the necessary support, community, education and tools for success.”

The purpose of the Behavioral Health CSC is to provide a professional home for licensed and license-eligible, non-physician behavioral health providers who are delivering assessment, diagnosis and intervention to patients receiving services throughout VUMC. The Behavioral Health CSC will focus on five principal areas: standardized models of care, education, professional development, workforce expansion, and partnerships to provide support and guidance.

The first phase of the Behavioral Health CSC will concentrate on licensed mental health professionals throughout VUMC’s health system providing adult behavioral health services. Advanced practice nurses and psychologists will continue to benefit from their existing educational structures.

The Behavioral Health CSC work group includes Nathaniel Clark, MD, chief of staff, Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital; Anne O’Halloran, LCSW, clinical administrator and program manager; Gene Liebler, LCSW, chief business officer, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences; and Cheryl Cobb, MD, medical director, Outpatient Service, Vanderbilt Behavioral Health.

The work group is performing an inventory of all non-physician behavioral health providers throughout VUMC. The CSC work group will analyze data and develop a five-year plan for growth and management of behavioral health services at VUMC. This includes review and strategic planning of behavioral health contracts, development of professional career paths for licensed mental health professionals, and support of a widely distributed workforce.

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