Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

May 5, 2012

Clinic gets more mental health workers

TRAVERSE CITY — The Traverse City veterans outpatient clinic will get a new psychiatrist, psychologist and social worker.

The three new staff positions are among some 1,900 new mental health officers nationwide. The Veterans Administration increased staffing last month, not only to help new veterans, but to deal with a shortage of specialists.

The clinic treated 5,030 veterans during 19,113 visits from October 2010 through September 2011. Since October, it has seen 3,489 individual veterans in 9,985 visits.

Common health issues are mood disorder paired with post traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse and general medical conditions including chronic pain, said Carrie Seward, communications officer at the Aleda E. Lutz Veterans Administration Medical Center in Saginaw.

The new positions will boost the number of staff at the Traverse City Community Based Outpatient Clinic to 35.

Currently, there are three psychiatrists, nine nurses, two social workers, four clerks, a medical administrative assistant, two health technicians, a tele-health tech licensed practical nurse, four outpatient assessment and medical treatment providers, a physical therapist and assistant, a pharmacist, and three home-based primary care staff. The clinic is located at 3271 Racquet Drive in Logan's Landing.

The Traverse City Vet Center, at 3766 U.S. 31 N. South, has three licensed medical social workers and one administrative support employee. It will receive no additional staff.

Seward said veterans served by the local outpatient clinic can book a primary appointment within seven days. The waiting time for mental health care is within 14 days. The number of veterans receiving mental health services has grown about 35 percent nationally and locally, the VA said.

An increase in veterans at the Traverse City clinic is not expected because of the opening of a community-based outpatient clinic in Cadillac, she said.

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