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New Approach to Trauma Has Helped Thousands of Youth Recover

Friday, May 10, 2024

UR School of Medicine and Dentistry alumna Hildegard Messenbaugh, MD, turned her ability to connect with youth and her own exposure to childhood adversity into a groundbreaking career. Inspired by George Engel, MD, and her desire to help others, she found a clear path forward in psychiatry. Dr. Messenbaugh founded the Denver-based nonprofit Third Way Center and began challenging conventional thinking about mental health.

Read More: New Approach to Trauma Has Helped Thousands of Youth Recover

Administrative and Leadership Transitions in Psychiatry

Monday, May 6, 2024

It is our pleasure to announce some upcoming administrative and leadership transitions in Psychiatry!

  • Julie Caster, RN will begin transitioning into the Community Division Administrator role. In this role, she will support operations of our Strong Ties, Assertive Community Treatment, Health Home Care Management, and Strong Minds programs. Julie originally joined Psychiatry in 2004 as a Sec III for Strong Ties Case Management and never left!  Julie continued to progress in her career taking on roles as a care manager at different levels and then shifting into nursing.   From 2011-2020, Julie held multiple RN positions with increasing educational and leadership responsibilities in both inpatient and ambulatory settings.  
  • Jessica Moore, PhD will be taking on the role of Senior Director for Hospital-Based Ambulatory Services in our Division of Collaborative Care & Wellness. She will be providing leadership and strategic alignment for many clinics under this division. As Senior Director, Dr. Moore will also provide leadership support for all the other directors of such clinics. 
  • Tyler Fleming, DO, MPH will be taking on the role of Medical Director for Family Therapy Services. In this role, he will work with Dr. Moore to help integrate our Family Therapy Service program's clinical, educational, and academic missions.
  • Adam Cake, LCSW will be taking on the role of Clinical Director for the Adult Partial Hospitalization Program. He is transitioning into this role from his previous position as Senior Social Worker for Adult Partial Hospitalization and will continue to help the program grow and build a strong team to provide care for those experiencing acute mental health symptoms.

Colette Stenz Recieves 2024 Trainee Contributions to Training Award

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Colette Stenz, PsyD, psychology postdoctoral child and adolescent track fellow, recently received the 2024 Trainee Contributions to Training Award from the Clinical Child and Pediatric Psychology Training Council (CCaPPTC). Dr. Stenz was recognized for her impactful, innovative clinical and educational contributions in the psychology training program and pediatric behavioral health settings, with a focus on improving access to evidence-based care for patients with pediatric disorders of the gut-brain interaction (DGBIs).

Dr. Stenz was also acknowledged for her work with the Psychology Training Program Diversity Workgroup spearheading the development of informational material for program applicants that highlights Rochester and its diverse residents, in particular as agents of change and advocates for social justice. 

How Childhood Trauma May Impact Adults

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Thomas O’Connor,PhD, director of the Wynne Center for Family Research at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Kristen Holderle, PhD, UR Medicine’s Clinic Director of the HEAL Collaborative, share the ways in which trauma affects the brain and body, how PTSD and trauma are related, and suggestions for healing.

Read More: How Childhood Trauma May Impact Adults

Yeates Conwell Weighs in on How Volunteering Affects Your Brain

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Yeates Conwell, MD, director of the Office for Aging Research and Health Services, spoke to BrainHQ about why volunteering benefits both brain and overall health. "When you're volunteering, so many things can get better, because it exercises so many of one's physical, emotional, and mental faculties at once. People who volunteer are able to improve their energy and enjoy an overall better quality of life."

Read the full article

Stroll for Strong Kids Pie Sale

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Team Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness is teaming up with Special Touch Bakery to raise funds for the 28th Annual Stroll for Strong Kids. Proceeds from the pie sale will benefit URMC’s Pediatric Behavioral Health & Wellness services. 
Now through Friday, April 26th, you can order locally-made pies. All pies come frozen. Fruit pies are unbaked with baking instructions on the box. Cream pies are simply thawed and served. 
Your order will be ready for pick up on Friday, May 10th, just in time for upcoming celebrations!

Order Locally Made Pies Here

Yeates Conwell Receives Carter Catlett Williams Award for Excellence in Aging Services

Monday, April 8, 2024

Yeates Conwell receiving award

Congratulations to Yeates Conwell, MD for receiving this year's Carter Catlett Williams Award for Excellence in Aging Services!

This award is given by Lifespan of Greater Rochester Inc. at their annual Celebration of Aging at the Convention Center and honors those making remarkable contributions to the field of aging and long-term care services.

Training Workshops on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treatment-Seeking

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Our UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence will be offering free trainings throughout April for peers and healthcare workers to provide guidance on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treatment-Seeking (CBT-TS), work through resistance, and encourage help-seeking behavior in those seeking treatment. One-session and four-session training available, depending on familiarity with CBT-TS.

Read More: Training Workshops on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Treatment-Seeking

Unique Psychiatry Program Delivers De-Stigmatized, Compassionate Care

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

MIPS team reaches those with severe mental illness facing barriers in health care

It’s a sobering fact that people with severe mental illness die, on average, 15 to 30 years earlier than the rest of the population. But the cause isn’t what you might expect, according to Marsha Wittink, MD, chief of academic affairs in the division of Medicine in Psychiatry Services (MIPS) at the University of Rochester Medical Center. 

Read More: Unique Psychiatry Program Delivers De-Stigmatized, Compassionate Care

Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art Closes May 3rd!

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

There’s a little more than a month left to submit artwork for our Bridge Art Gallery's next call for art, Growth in Tough Times. We invite artists of all ages to respond to our call for art exploring resilience and overcoming challenges by completing the attached submission form or filling out our online form here.  In addition, save the date for the show reception on May 29th from 4:30 PM to 6 PM at the Romano Room. Stay tuned for more details! 

Read More: Bridge Art Gallery Call for Art Closes May 3rd!

Pilot Award to Translate Mental Health and Deaf Cultural Screenings

Thursday, March 28, 2024

We are proud to share that Aileen Aldalur, PhD and Kimberly van Orden, PhD, alongside Wyatte Hall, MA, PhD, and researchers from Gallaudet University and UMass Chan Medical School were recently awarded the Quality Institute Healthcare Innovation Pilot Award from the UR Medicine Quality Institute.

This award will fund the team's project, "Creating Deaf Equity in Behavioral Health Assessment," which will translate several mental health screenings and Deaf cultural measures into ASL. These screenings will be piloted across UR Medicine in the upcoming years. Congratulations to the team for this well-deserved award!

Stroll for Strong Kids is June 1st!

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Read More: Stroll for Strong Kids is June 1st!

Deaf Wellness Center Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

In March, our Deaf Wellness Center (DWC) celebrated its 25th Anniversary.

The foundations of this program began in 1990 when founder Dr. Robert Pollard joined UR Medicine and two years later, a National Institute of Mental Health grant provided funding for our Psychology Internship Program to bring on a deaf intern focused on serving deaf patients.

Since then, the program has grown to provide mental health and counseling services to deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, deaf disabled, late-deafened, and CODA adults with the center officially receiving its name in 1999.

Adobe Donation Supports Youth Suicide Prevention

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Ian Cero, PhDPeter Wyman, PhD, and Anthony Pisani, PhD recently received a $20K donation from Adobe, Inc. to fund initial research into the potential uses of AI for suicide prevention among high-risk adolescents. This pilot will evaluate the potential for Adobe’s image-generating AI platform (Firefly) to improve suicide safety planning for youth and adults in their lives. The pilot will be conducted with patients discharged from our Child and Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Program with youth and supportive adults collaborating to use Firefly to visualize images personally important to their safety plan.

Transitions in Psychiatry Education

Friday, March 8, 2024

Marylee Gramlich After 21 years at URMC, and over 18 in our Department, Marylee Gramlich will be departing from URMC, the Department’s Education team, and her role as the Education Administrator; her last day with us will be March 29. Marylee has been a champion for all things education! She is a consummate advocate for our learners and our faculty, an excellent steward of our Education resources, a builder of community, and a beacon of warmth to all who are new to the Department of Psychiatry. She has been the heartbeat of this part of our Department, and we are all indebted to her for her countless and tireless contributions. While Marylee is surely one of a kind, and irreplaceable, our Psychiatry Education team will be working toward fortifying the team with some additional resources and support. 

 In addition, Vicki Perry, the fearless Psychiatry medical student education coordinator, and coordinator for our Geriatric Fellowship Program, will be leaving our department in March. 

 Laura Cardella, MD, Director of Medical Student Education in Psychiatry says, "Vicki has been the clerkship coordinator for longer than I have been the clerkship director. She has a level of institutional awareness that not many of us do. She is quick to lend a hand when asked,  has helped facilitate more than a thousand medical students through the psychiatry clerkship, and deeply cares about them and their education."

Please join us in thanking Marylee and Vicki for their years of service! 


Advanced Certificate in Addictions Counseling Program Rounding the Bend on Pilot Year

Friday, March 8, 2024

The Advanced Certificate in Addictions Counseling Program, a partnership between our Strong Recovery Services, the Warner School of Education, and the School of Medicine and Dentistry, is rounding the bend on its pilot year. The team of faculty, staff, and students who made this program possible feel tremendous pride in the learning community that we’ve collaboratively created. 

This program is designed to meet the educational needs of master-prepared professionals who are interested in obtaining the Credentialed Alcohol and Substance Use Counseling (CASAC) credential. What makes our program unique is the targeted curriculum of substance use disorder education that is often missing from master-level human service degrees. Therefore, in two short semesters, a student will obtain all the necessary educational hours to meet the requirements to become a CASAC trainee.

Additionally, the program includes two tracks, one for students interested in gaining more alcohol and other drug clinical internship experience at Strong Recovery, and the other track is designed for students interested in learning more about clinical supervision. In total, the commitment is two semesters, and the cohort begins every fall. The deadline to apply program is July 15th, 2024.

Interested in learning more about this program and becoming a Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselor? An informational session will be held on March 28th at noon. Click here to register.

Elizabeth Santos, MD elected president of National Geriatric Psychiatry Association

Friday, March 8, 2024

Elizabeth Santos, an associate professor of psychiatry, will lead the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry beginning March 18. She is the latest of at least four AAGP presidents with ties to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Dr. Santos is the Director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Fellowship Program, the Strong Behavioral Health Older Adults Clinic, and the Medical Director of the URMC Memory Care Program.

Read More: Elizabeth Santos, MD elected president of National Geriatric Psychiatry Association

Biomarker changes in spinal fluid could help diagnose Alzheimer's early

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Media Spotlight: Geriatric psychiatrist Emily Clark, DO, spoke to Medical News Today (Feb. 28) about a long-term study on early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. Clark said the new findings confirm the differences in biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid and blood plasma in patients who developed the disease in the future and those who didn't. "A temporal manner of biomarker changes has been a hypothesis for many years that has been validated as biomarker testing advancements have been made in research settings," said Clark.

Read More: Biomarker changes in spinal fluid could help diagnose Alzheimer's early

Kristina Washington Named Sr. Administrator for Adult Acute/Crisis/MIPS

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

We are excited to share that Kristina Washington, LCSW will be promoted to the new position of Senior Administrator for Adult Acute/Crisis/MIPS services. In this role, Kristina will provide administrative oversight, guidance, and support for all of our adult inpatient crisis programs such as the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program, Mobile Crisis, and Crisis Call Line, as well as other acute programs such as the Adult Partial Hospitalization Program

Kristina joined the department almost 23 years ago and has served in various admin support, clinical, and leadership roles across our ambulatory and acute/crisis services.  Her most recent has been as the Clinical Director of our Adult Partial Hospitalization Program for almost 2 years to date.  Kristina brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this new role and I look forward to working with her to continue to support and advance our Acute/Crisis/MIPS services for adult patients. 

Please join us in congratulating Kristina on her new role!

Perspectives for Black History Month and Beyond: Q&A with Dr. Arielle Sheftall

Friday, February 9, 2024

Arielle Sheftall, PhD, is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry with expertise in understanding and addressing mental health disparities.  In this Q&A session, Sheftall discusses key research findings, providing valuable perspectives for Black History Month and beyond.

Read More: Perspectives for Black History Month and Beyond: Q&A with Dr. Arielle Sheftall

When the biggest student mental health advocates are the students

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Read the New York Times Article

Student-led efforts can play a vital role, too, says Peter Wyman, a professor of psychiatry, co-director of the Center for Study and Prevention of Suicide, and director of the Network Health and Prevention Program. Peer leaders can be “significant influencers,” he says, in helping friends to avoid risk-taking behaviors, like vaping or drugs, and to embrace coping behaviors, like seeking counseling. The closer a teen is to the peer leader delivering a prevention message or demonstrating a healthy coping behavior, the bigger the impact, Wyman says.

Itza Morales Named Staff Wellness Officer

Monday, January 29, 2024

We are excited to announce the appointment of Itza Morales, MSB, CASAC as the new Staff Wellness Officer for the Department of Psychiatry. In this role, Itza will partner with Autumn Gallegos, PhD, our Faculty Wellness Officer, to promote and implement wellness initiatives throughout the department. Together, they will aim to make ongoing wellness a consistent part of the fabric of our work environments.

Itza has a long history of promoting wellness in Addiction Psychiatry. She has served as Strong Recovery’s Wellness Champion for the past 5 years. In that role, she has guided the implementation of many wellness initiatives. She will continue her position as Co-Director of Operations of Strong Recovery but will allocate some of her time to fulfill this pivotal role for the department.

George Nasra Named Associate Chair for Adult Ambulatory Care

Friday, January 26, 2024

In this role, Dr. Nasra will provide leadership and strategic direction for our adult ambulatory services. He will also facilitate collaboration across our different programs.

Dr. Nasra brings a wealth of expertise, having previously led the DSRIP integration efforts and played a pivotal role as Associate Medical Director of Behavioral Health in the Accountable Health Partner (AHP). His extensive collaboration with affiliate hospitals, particularly through our primary integration programs and telepsychiatry-based emergency psychiatry program highlights his commitment to advancing our department's goals.

Under Dr. Nasra's leadership, the Division of Collaborative Care and Wellness has flourished, becoming one of the largest divisions of its kind in the country. Today, our department stands as one of the most integrated in the country, a testament to Dr. Nasra's dedication and strategic vision.

During this transitional period, Dr. Nasra will continue his role as Clinical Chief of our Division of Collaborative Care and Wellness in the interim.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Nasra on his new leadership role!

‘Change is now:’ Mental health care expansion in progress at Golisano Children’s Hospital

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Construction is underway for our Golisano Children's Hospital Brighter Days Pediatric Mental Health Urgent Care!

Michael Scharf, MD, Chief of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, alongside Lauren Opladen, ICU nurse at Strong Hospital, spoke with News 8 WROC Rochester on how this program will help streamline the process of mental health services for youth and their families.

Read More: ‘Change is now:’ Mental health care expansion in progress at Golisano Children’s Hospital

Gold & Silver Star Recipients Show ‘What URMC is All About’

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Each year, we pause to recognize those whose exemplary work has earned top recognition from patients, families, and colleagues at URMC through the ICARE Stars program.

Hundreds of Gold and Silver Star recipients in a variety of roles across the organization were honored at a virtual ceremony Dec. 19. As echoed by numerous speakers, these superstars—recognizable by their gold and silver ID badges—are proof that the Medical Center is only as good as its people and the quality work they deliver every day—from each interaction with patients and, importantly, with each other.

“These outstanding individuals and their actions reflect our best work,” said Chief Operating Officer Kathy Parrinello. “You serve as role models for what URMC is all about and the actions we celebrate today demonstrate the best of our organization and what makes URMC a great place to work.”

For decades, the ICARE Star program has long provided a simple way to recognize faculty and staff publicly through written words of thanks. The ICARE Values (Inclusion, Integrity, Compassion, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence) not only guide our interactions with those we serve but are critical to our success as a whole, said Jackie Beckerman, Senior Director of ICARE Commitment and Chief Patient Experience Officer.

“You consistently go above and beyond and serve as role models for others,” she said. “In a field as challenging as health care, you always show up with your best. Today we celebrate you and everything you do, day in and day out.”

Chief Medical Officer Michael Apostolakos, MD, called the accomplishments “humbling,” and one of the reasons many patients and families leave satisfied with the care they receive.

“People who show the ICARE values set a culture of engagement for others,” he said. “The level of engagement of our staff is directly related to patient and family satisfaction. Your actions create a culture that lets us give the best care to patients and we can’t thank you enough for that.”

Chief Nursing Executive Karen Keady praised the teamwork behind each individual award, noting the critical importance of every role within this organization.

“A special shout-out to our many nursing recipients, as busy as we are–you continue to offer great clinical care and interpersonal skills that take us to the next level–and I could not be more proud of each and every one of you.”

Vicky Hines, Chief Operating Officer of the UR Medical Faculty Group, praised the ICARE program. Hines, who has worked at URMC for 38 years, and said: “It has always been our remarkable people, like our Gold and Silver Star recipients, that have brought me the greatest sense of joy throughout my tenure at the Medical Center.  Your commitment to our patients and to each other, is an inspiration to us all.”

Psychiatry employees representing a number of our services- including but not limited to Psychiatric nursing, our inpatient, outpatient, and partial services, and Psychiatric social work- were among those honored during this ceremony. Congratulations to all that were recognized and thank you for your continued hard work! View a recording of the celebration. 

Want to Improve the Well-Being of Health Workers? The System Itself Must Change

Monday, January 8, 2024

There is increasing evidence of work-related harm to the brain with chronic high-level uncontrolled (but not controlled) stress. This will have implications for work-related mental health issues, and now evidence of cognitive impairments, neuroanatomical changes. Some are reversible if stress is reduced but the time window of the reversibility is not known.

Michael Privitera, MD, MS, alongside leadership from the Total Worker Health Program, published a NIOSH Science Blog article discussing the need for systemic interventions in the workplace using the Total Worker Health Program as an example of healthy work design.

Read More: Want to Improve the Well-Being of Health Workers? The System Itself Must Change