The very coronary heart of inpatient take care of psychiatric sufferers is socialization, group remedy, shared meals, and a normal two folks per room. Then COVID-19 hit with the accompanying public well being warnings to isolate, socially distance, and put on masks.

That despatched clinicians and employees from The College of Texas Well being Science Middle at Houston (UTHealth) transferring shortly to create a technique for the UTHealth Harris County Psychiatric Middle (UTHealth HCPC) that supplied the perfect psychiatric care inside a secure setting in the midst of an epic pandemic. That technique was printed within the October situation of Psychiatry Analysis.

“When COVID-19 started, we had been left with the query of handle a extremely infectious virus in a freestanding psychiatric hospital. There was no present printed guideline on how to do that,” stated first writer Lokesh Shahani, MD, MPH, assistant professor within the Louis A. Faillace, MD, Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at McGovern Medical College at UTHealth and chief medical officer of UTHealth HCPC.

The biggest supplier of inpatient psychiatric care within the Better Houston space, the middle is a 274-bed, safety-net hospital that gives care to round 9,000 sufferers annually. It’s led by Govt Director Jair C. Soares, MD, PhD, senior writer of the paper, and Pat R. Rutherford, Jr. Chair in Psychiatry within the Faillace Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.

By mid-March, with rising Harris County instances, hospital leaders realized that the possibilities of a affected person arriving who was contaminated with COVID-19 had been quickly rising.

“Our mission is to deal with sufferers locally who’ve psychiatric situations and we did not wish to flip anybody away,” stated Stephen Glazier, COO of the hospital. “The one method to try this was to create an remoted COVID-19 unit.”

To create the area, new sufferers weren’t admitted to that unit and remaining sufferers had been moved into different models as spots grew to become out there. Glazier requested for volunteers prepared to employees the unit day and evening. Shahani, who’s board licensed in infectious illness in addition to psychiatry, determined to guide the an infection management initiative.

“I’m honored to work alongside our devoted nursing employees who stepped up and volunteered to care for our COVID-19 sufferers,” Shahani stated. “Workers security was our precedence and we made certain everybody was skilled in appropriately utilizing PPE and had entry to the identical.”

The group turned for recommendation and management from co-author Luis Ostrosky, MD, professor of infectious illnesses at McGovern Medical College, and vice chair of Healthcare High quality at McGovern Medical College. “We needed to hold employees secure in addition to sufferers,” Shahani stated. “Being part of UTHealth and capable of seek the advice of with Dr. Ostrosky was invaluable for us.”

Ostrosky is the COVID-19 Incident Commander for UTHealth. “COVID-19 continues to problem the best way we work. Information acquisition and adaptability have been key in making adjustments and adapting to our new actuality,” Ostrosky stated. “From transporting sufferers in helicopters, to determining ready rooms, to creating psychiatric care secure, UTHealth is right here for our neighborhood’s wants.”

Complicating the method for the group had been sufferers who refused to be examined for the coronavirus or perceive why they needed to put on a masks.

“In a medical hospital, sufferers are capable of have a personal room with connected rest room, which we do not have, and they’re examined for the virus. Psychiatric sufferers do not all the time consent for testing due to their extreme psychological sickness, and 40% refused testing,” Shahani stated. “Carrying a face masks and adhering at hand hygiene are different measures wanted to maintain folks secure, however folks with power extreme psychological sickness haven’t got the flexibility to all the time observe pointers similar to that.”

The group determined to concentrate on screening for signs, fever, contact, and journey historical past. They used excessive warning: anybody who was suspected of getting the virus was remoted.

The primary take a look at for the brand new unit got here April 17 when an asymptomatic affected person required isolation due to latest journey and publicity. Since then, over 100 sufferers have been handled within the COVID-19 unit, with 52% of them testing optimistic for the virus.

“We have had neighborhood companions who wanted a secure place to deal with sufferers and we have now been capable of step in and settle for these sufferers,” Shahani stated. “We’ve got been safely delivering psychiatric care throughout the pandemic.”

“We couldn’t be any prouder of the excellent group of very dedicated, compassionate clinicians and employees we have now at UTHealth HCPC,” Soares stated. “They stepped as much as assist us proceed to operate at very excessive ranges by way of this unprecedented disaster with the pandemic.”


Scott Lane, PhD, professor, vice chair for analysis for the psychiatric division, and director of analysis for the hospital, was a co-author. Lane and Soares are members of The College of Texas MD Anderson Most cancers Middle UTHealth Graduate College of Biomedical Sciences.

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