The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and Bibb Medical Center are expanding services.
Published: June 3, 2023
By: Laura Gasque
With the growing need for psychiatric and mental health care resources, the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing and Bibb Medical Center are expanding services to provide specialized care to patients across the lifespan. Two psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners are now available to see patients at the Centreville clinic.
“We are trying to replicate and broaden services to meet the needs of Alabamians and improve access to care, especially in rural communities where resources are sometimes scarce,” says Michele Talley, Ph.D., associate professor and interim associate dean for Clinical and Global Partnerships at the School of Nursing. “We can’t be discouraged by barriers to care. Instead, we must press on to care for the most vulnerable of populations in our state.”
Bibb Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Joseph Marchant says there is a significant need for behavioral health care in the community. Before the clinic opened, patients had to travel to Birmingham or Tuscaloosa for those services. Marchant hopes the convenient access in a discreet setting will encourage patients to seek care.
“Integrating it into a traditional primary care setting was really our model,” Marchant says. “We asked ourselves, ‘How can we normalize this in a way that’s just health care?’ It’s not mental health, it’s just health care. If you pull up in the parking lot or if you’re sitting in a waiting room, no one’s the wiser about what you’re there for relative to your needs.”
Nursing instructor Brenda Mayfield, CRNP, has seen patients at the clinic since November 2020.
“I have seen patients who were very, very sick and are very, very stable now,” Mayfield says of the impact of care. “Patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia — I’ve seen some of those patients. They’ve gone back to work, they’ve gone back to school, and they’re functioning well in the community. They’re not in the hospital, they’re not on the streets, and so we continue to try to build support systems around them.”
The recent addition of nursing instructor Simone Durand, CRNP, enabled the clinic to provide targeted care to patients across the lifespan three days a week.
“A lot of my work at Bibb involves helping families communicate better, support children more successfully and navigate social stressors,” Durand says. “Anxiety, trauma or substance use can affect anyone. We collectively have experience working with patients ages 3 to 100.”
Marchant wants people in the Bibb County community to know that the resources are available locally.
“Anxiety and depression touch us all, all our families,” Marchant says. “Whether it’s grieving the loss of a loved one or it’s a new diagnosis that a family receives, you just never know what the person you’re walking by or you’re encountering is really going through. I think what we want them to know is that this care is available and it’s convenient.”
For the UAB SON, the partnership provides educational opportunities for students as well as faculty practices to support the education, research and service missions of the school.
“The faculty practices tie into our mission of targeting vulnerable populations, providing services to this population and improving access to care,” Talley says. “Faculty practices equip sites with expert clinicians and educators who are committed to building the workforce to care for vulnerable populations through practicum experiences. Psych-mental health nurse practitioner students are gaining valuable experiences with our faculty who are practicing in these areas, and our Doctor of Nursing Practice students are also joining faculty in these sites to conduct quality improvement projects.”