Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) Awardees Gather in Cleveland

  • Published August 2, 2023
PMHCA conference

With the theme "Building Bridges," a meeting in Cleveland brought together Pediatric Mental Health Care Access (PMHCA) teams on July 26-27, aiming to explore innovative approaches and quality improvement (QI) methods for connecting their programs with emergency departments (EDs) in order to improve pediatric mental health care. The PMHCA program, funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), offers behavioral health consultation, training, and support for pediatric primary care and other providers so that children’s mental health needs are met.

The event kicked off with introductions from the EMSC Innovation and Improvement Center’s (EIIC) Co-Directors, Kate Remick, MD, and Charles Macias, MD, MPH, followed by presentations by Angela Nguyen, LCSW, on opportunities to collaborate with participating sites of the ED Screening and Treatment Options for Pediatric (STOP) Suicide QI Collaborative and Carolyn Ievers-Landis, PhD, presenting on the seven PMHCA’s environmental scan results.

Ann Marie Dietrich, MD, from Prisma Health, provided the ED perspective, sharing expertise on appropriate ED referrals, workflows, and discharge planning. “My hope is that the PMCHAs can make the connection with EDs to help children and families facing behavioral and mental health crises in the ED,” said Dietrich. “From my medical perspective, EDs are safety nets for children, but they are not set up to be calming or provide all of the expertise and resources that the PMHCAs can provide.”

Then the participants broke into group sessions with QI coaches from University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children led by Stephen Czekalinski, MBA, RN, BSN, Jen Donathan, MPH, Anna Goldman, MSN, RN, BSN, and Mona T. Thompson, PharmD, MPH. These sessions facilitated learning about Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) QI applications and concepts while identifying current projects for connecting with EDs.

The afternoon sessions featured discussions by Shireen Atabaki, MD, and Tejal Raichura, MHA, from Children's National Hospital, focusing on managing behavioral health pediatric patients using telehealth modalities across various health care settings.

The first day concluded with a panel discussion led by several experts including Macias, Remick, Nyguen, Atabaki and Raichura along with Kim Burkhart,PhD.The panelists discussed effective strategies for addressing behavioral and mental health challenges in pediatric patients in diverse health care settings.

PMHCA conference 2

Day two involved two presentations by Renee Tinder, MPH, Brooke Rosen, MD and Pauline Wray, MSW, LICSW, representing Washington State PMHCA, and Ryan Baker, MHA from the North Carolina Statewide Telepsychiatry Program (NC-STeP). These presentations highlighted how the organizations overcame barriers while establishing connections with EDs.

Following the presentations, participants went around the room to share feedback and key takeaways from the meeting.

Remick and Macias offered closing remarks, emphasizing the significance of such initiatives in advancing pediatric mental healthcare access.

The next step for awardees is to develop a technical assistance toolkit, supporting other PMHCAs in connecting their services with EDs and ultimately improving the accessibility and quality of mental health care for vulnerable pediatric populations.

Learn more about PMHCA’s work with EIIC on the EIIC’s webpage.