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State hospital expects more academic staff
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AUGUSTA — 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. A new forensic psychiatry fellow will join hospital staff this month under the direction of Dr. Carmen Nichita, forensic psychiatrist at MCG. Nichita will lead the forensic services at ECGRH. 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 DBHDD and MCG has increased the resources at East Central and allowed staff to gain the benefit of academic-caliber forensic and mental health services,” DBHDD Commissioner Dr. Frank E. Shelp said. “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 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 who will spend one day a week at the hospital as well. MCG’s new schizophrenia fellow also will be working at the hospital and MCG medical students are completing psychiatry clerkships at the facility.  Occupational therapy students from MCG’s School of Allied Health have also begun training at ECRH.
“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 Medical College of Georgia School of Medicine.
The MCG Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior has under way 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 now working as chief nursing officer at ECRH.
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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