Martinsville-Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness combats provider shortage with telehealth – WDBJ

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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) – The Harvest Foundation recently invested $685,993 into the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness to expand its telepsychiatry program.
The nonprofit used the funds to hire a remote nurse practitioner, who specializes in mental health for patients at Basset Family Practice and Ridgeway Family Heath.
“Suicide rates are extremely high from those who maybe have never had the ability to sit down and talk with someone and get the services they need around mental health,” said Sheryl Agee, senior operating officer for the Harvest Foundation. “Every life is important. The sooner we take the stigma away, the sooner we realize that it impacts all of us and become part of the solution.”
The new psychiatrist lives in Tennessee, but is able to help patients in Henry County and Martinsville through telehealth.
“During COVID, when people couldn’t go to the doctor, we operated virtually or through telehealth,” said Marcus Stone, chief executive officer for the Martinsville Henry County Coalition for Health and Wellness. “We can provide a lot of services through telehealth that we can in person. So, it was a great way to continue providing services to our patients.”
In 2019, the Coalition for Health and Wellness saw 2,600 mental health visits. In 2021, that number decreased by 1,000 visits due to a lack of access to care and availability of providers as a result of the pandemic.
“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a large uptick in behavioral health or mental health services and the need for those. Likewise, we have seen that continued issue with recruiting and the inability to recruit. While it’s across healthcare, it’s specifically seems that there’s a bigger problem with behavioral health,” added Stone.
Stone says they plan to continue to expand telehealth services for their patients and predicts the number of mental health visits will return to what it was in 2019.
Copyright 2022 WDBJ. All rights reserved.


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