Improved access to psychiatry

The work of the Mood Disorders As­sociation of BC (MDABC) Psychiatric Urgent Care Program was recently profiled at the 2011 Canadian Psychiatric Association’s annual conference held in Vancouver in October. 

Drs Ron Remick, Chris Gorman, Judy Allen, and colleagues discussed their work in conjunction with the MDABC to change the traditional practice of care and create new capacity, with existing re­sourc­es, for pa­tients with mood disorders. The group led a well-received symposium on their use of group medical visits or regular e-mail communication be­tween psychiatrist and patient in lieu of individual follow-up appointments.

With five psychiatrists each working 1 day a week assessing new consultations and chairing one group medical visit, they’re able to assess and provide care for approximately 1500 new patients a year, while maintaining a follow-up cohort of 2000 patients.

Group sizes range from 8 to 12 patients, and sessions include pa­tients with a range of conditions including depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, as well as patients with concurrent substance abuse issues and/or co-morbid psychiatric conditions.

Demand is growing, and plans are underway to add a sixth weekly session. Additionally, Drs Remick and Gorman have both changed their Pro­vidence Health Care clinic to mimic this model.

Interest in the program is also growing: representatives from the University of Ottawa’s Department of Psychiatry plan to visit Vancouver to observe the program with the intention of starting something similar in Ottawa, and physicians from the Surrey South Asian community, Abbotsford, north Okanagan, and Nanaimo have also expressed interest in learning more.

Funded by the Shared Care Com­mittee, the Psychiatric Urgent Care Program (also known as the Rapid Access to Psychiatry program) provides five drop-in group medical visits a week at the MDABC Vancouver premises.

Remick’s poster on content ana­lysis of e-mail communications between patients and physicians in the program further highlighted the group’s work, winning the best poster presentation (out of 95 posters) at the conference. 

To view the winning poster and for more information on Rapid Access to Psychiatry and other initiatives of the Shared Care Committee, visit

The Shared Care Committee is a joint project between the Ministry of Health and the BC Medical Association, as part of the 2006 Physician Master Agreement.

Clare O'Callaghan,. Improved access to psychiatry. BCMJ, Vol. 53, No. 10, December, 2011, Page(s) 525 - News.

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