Collaboration with The Guidance Center and Miller Hospital Benefits Patients and Staff

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The pediatric psychology post-doctoral fellowship between The Guidance Center and Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach may have only just completed its first year, but care team members and families at Miller Children’s are already benefiting from the collaboration.

Psychology is an important and needed component in the hospital setting, where patients may become anxious, depressed or experience post-traumatic stress reactions during their stay. Others may have pre-existing mental health conditions and are in need of special care upon admittance, throughout their stay and after they’ve been discharged.

Since Fall 2015, the post-doctoral fellow, Lauren Ford, PsyD, has partnered with the pediatric medical teams in the general pediatric care units, Miller Children’s West and Core, and the Cherese Mari Laulhere Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), to help these patients in need.

In her role as a mental health consultant and liaison, Dr. Ford leads educational workshops on trauma-informed care for employees, collaborates with the medical team on patients’ treatment plans, and provides onsite evidence-based mental health treatment for patients undergoing medical treatment and their families. Her role complements the hospital’s already established psychosocial services, which includes psychiatry and medical social work.

Over the past year, the fellowship has achieved impactful benchmarks. Dr. Ford has seen more than 200 patients in need of mental health support. A number of these patients are frequently admitted to the hospital due to complex chronic illnesses, which has allowed Dr. Ford to establish longer-term relationships with them and provide consistent support for their specific mental health needs.

A unique aspect of this post-doctoral fellowship is its focus on staff in addition to patients. The nursing and health technician staff are benefitting from advanced trainings on a variety of mental health topics that are pertinent to the hospital environment, such as compassion fatigue and trauma-informed care. In just one year, Dr. Ford led 24 of these trainings.

Dr. Ford has also been instrumental in empowering the nursing and technician staff to more effectively connect with and treat patients with Autism. Miller Children’s has identified this as an area to help staff to better identify and respond to the needs of current and future patients with Autism.

“The staff is amazing. It’s an honor to be able to partner with Miller Children’s to help our patients,” said Dr. Ford. “We often encounter the same population of children and families at Miller Children’s as we do at The Guidance Center. Through this fellowship, we’re able to collaborate with Miller Children’s care teams to help patients throughout their stay and facilitate a seamless transition to The Guidance Center for continued support.”

The fellowship is supervised by Lisa Fasnacht-Hill, PhD, pediatric neuropsychologist, Miller Children’s and a longtime collaborator with The Guidance Center. Dr. Fasnacht-Hill has played an integral role in facilitating this fellowship and getting it up and running.

Goals for the second year of the fellowship include hosting trainings and facilitating post-incident debriefs especially for physicians.

This is not the first time The Guidance Center and Miller Children’s have partnered to bring much-needed services to the community. The relationship between the organizations began in the 1960s when The Guidance Center housed its clinic and operations at Miller Children’s for a number of years. Since then, the partnership remains strong through client referrals and joint educational programs like the post-doctoral fellowship and doctoral internship.

“The Guidance Center and Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach have a long history of collaborating to meet the needs of the community on all levels,” said Patricia Costales, LCSW, CEO of The Guidance Center. “We strive toward the same goal of creating a community where people have the help they need to be healthy and happy. Collaborations, like this fellowship, bring us one step closer to making that a reality.”

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