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WVU Medicine Reynolds launches outpatient psychiatric services

GLEN DALE — Outpatient psychiatric services opened Monday at WVU Medicine Reynolds Memorial Hospital, helping to close a gap created by the closure of Ohio Valley Medical Center.

All members of the newly-assembled team worked previously at OVMC’s Hillcrest unit in Wheeling. Services at Hillcrest ceased when the medical center closed in September.

The outpatient psychiatric offices are located in a medical building at 1000 Wheeling Ave. in Glen Dale. The building is adjacent to John Marshall High School and is only a short distance from Reynolds’ main campus.

Beth McCracken, office manager, said the staff includes three psychiatrists, two full-time therapists, two registration specialists and two medical assistants.

“Everybody who is working here had been with OVMC,” she said, adding, “We weren’t able to bring everyone. We’re starting a little bit smaller.”

Children, age 5 or older, and adults are being accepted as patients, she said.

A child psychiatrist, Dr. Nihit Gupta, and two adult psychiatrists, Dr. Alber Ghobrial and Dr. Paul Papadimitriou, are treating patients. The three doctors have over 50 years of combined experience, McCracken said.

“It’s wonderful that we were able to keep our team together,” she said. “It’s a well-oiled machine. We’re just picking up where we left off.”

To date, more than 300 former Hillcrest patients have appointments scheduled at the new facility, she said. Physicians’ referrals and calls from prospective patients also are being received.

Appointments for outpatient psychiatric services can be made by calling 304-221-3012. A referral from a physician isn’t required.

“We anticipate to continue to schedule more patients who were up there (at OVMC),” she said.

Regarding patients’ reactions, she said, “Everybody has been so excited and happy to hear us calling. They could not wait for us to open.”

Among patients who went without treatment for the past four or five months, “some of them were OK. Some were not able to get prescriptions for medications filled,” she said. “Not all patients were able to continue with their medications or were about to run out. They were panicking.”

McCracken said, “I’m so thankful and glad we are able to provide care for a much-needed service. It’s wonderful that WVU Medicine and Reynolds stepped up and were able to do this.”

Help also is available for patients who need public transportation to get to appointments. The Ohio Valley Regional Transportation Authority is offering bus service, on a trial basis, between Wheeling and Reynolds Memorial. Buses are running at 8:40 a.m., 9:40 a.m., 10:40 a.m., 1:40 p.m., 2:40 p.m. and 3:40 p.m.

Meanwhile, an inpatient behaviorial medicine unit at Reynolds is scheduled to open in late summer or early fall. Renovation on the hospital’s fifth floor is underway to accommodate the inpatient unit.

The three psychiatrists will treat patients admitted to the new unit, which will have its own nursing staff. “Some of those nurses and techs are already working at WVU,” McCracken said.

At this point, the psychiatric caseload at WVU Medicine Reynolds is much smaller than it was at Hillcrest. “When we left up there, we had over 1,300 patients on our roster,” the office manager said.

Hillcrest also offered outpatient programs for drug/alcohol abuse and mental health. The OVMC unit employed 10 therapists, but some worked only part-time or on a contractual basis, she said.

At WVU Medicine Reynolds, “as they (appointments) get filled up, we’ll add based on our needs,” she added.

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