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Update: Medical College of Georgia partnering with East Central Georgia Regional Hospital

Press Release by Kristie N. Swink, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), July 14, 2010

East Central Georgia Regional Hospital will see an infusion of academic staff in the coming months through its partnership with the Medical College of Georgia.

MCG's new forensic psychiatry fellow will join hospital staff this month under the direction of Dr. Carmen Nichita, MCG forensic psychiatrist who will lead the forensic services at East Central Georgia Regional Hospital. The hospital is also looking to fill 48 health service technician and 18 registered nurse positions as well as an academic nursing executive vacancy.

"The partnership between (the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities) and MCG has increased the resources at East Central and allowed staff to gain the benefit of academic-caliber forensic and mental health services," said Dr. Frank E. Shelp, DBHDD commissioner. "As we increase staff, we increase our ability to provide concentrated service to our consumers and bring immediate benefits to the hospital."

Effective this month, one MCG psychiatry resident will always be at the hospital completing month-long rotations. With one of only 19 federally funded psychology programs in the country, the MCG-Charlie Norwood Veterans Affairs Medical Center Psychology Residency Program will have two psychology residents spending one day a week at the hospital as well. MCG's new schizophrenia fellow also will work at the hospital and medical students and occupational therapy students are getting clinical experience at the facility.

"Our intent is to develop a psychiatry and psychology workforce more tailored toward the public mental health system where there is tremendous need," said Dr. Peter Buckley, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior and senior associate dean for leadership development in the MCG School of Medicine.

The department has underway a robust recruitment of psychiatrists and psychologists who will be on the MCG faculty but have primary assignments at East Central Georgia Regional Hospital. The department is also recruiting internists and collaborating with Dr. Lucy Marion, dean of the MCG School of Nursing to hire nurses to positively impact the significant nurse shortage at the state hospital. Margaret Tuck, nursing faculty at MCG, is working there as chief nursing officer.

In October 2009, MCG took charge of the clinical services at East Central Georgia Regional Hospital under an agreement with DBHDD. The public sector partnership was developed to bring the hospital additional staff and improve the quality of care for consumers. The agreement is expected to last three to five years.

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