In a University of Florida College of Medicine-supported initiative, department of psychiatry faculty members will begin seeing patients and conducting research this week in a new, 10,000-square-foot facility on Northwest 39th Avenue.
“This location will complement our activities at the McKnight Brain Institute and Health Science Center and enable us to grow our primary and secondary psychiatric services in a convenient and readily accessible community location,” said Mark Gold, M.D., chairman of the department of psychiatry. “The new programs and facilities will also allow us to continue to expand our clinical research in eating disorders, depression and a number of areas in child and adolescent psychiatry.”
Gold said addiction faculty will immediately begin seeing patients associated with the Florida Recovery Center, one of the largest and best known treatment centers for alcoholics and addicts in the South. Plus, UF faculty physicians will provide child and adolescent psychiatry, adult psychiatry, addiction medicine, chronic pain and forensic services, as well as an eating disorder program.
“The new psychiatry center at Springhill was essential for the training of medical students, resident and fellow specialists in child and adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry, brain stimulation, geriatrics and addiction medicine,” said Jackie Hobbs, M.D., Ph.D., the department’s director of training. “The facility is close enough to almost see the freestanding psychiatric and addiction hospital, Shands Vista, and our psychiatric clinical trials facility at Springhill.”
Officials started planning the move to Springhill when space formerly used by forensic psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry was needed for the Baby Gator Child Development and Research Center and for neurosurgery programs. Once planning began, psychiatry division chiefs identified programs that needed to be added or expanded, Gold said.
For example, the Florida Recovery Center, also known as the FRC, needed space for its intensive outpatient day, night and weekend programs.
“Physicians and other health professionals with alcohol, drug, psychiatric and other problems are referred to us from other physicians and programs located across the country,” said Scott Teitelbaum, M.D., the medical director of the FRC. “We have built upon the research that our addiction researchers have been doing at the McKnight Brain Institute and incorporated their insights to make a program that reliably can work with physicians and their families. In fact, at one year and five years after treatment, we are showing that more than 80 percent of our patients are drug-free and working at a level that everyone can be very proud of.”
With the Springhill facility, FRC physicians and staff are now close to experts in child and adolescent psychiatry, and forensic psychiatry. Officials believe the arrangement will be helpful for patients of all the programs.
“The space is fantastic for kids,” said Kimberly White, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of child psychiatry. “It is easy to get in and out, the views are peaceful and we have child-friendly offices for our faculty to evaluate and treat kids as well as train the next generation of child psychiatrists.”
White and Daniel Tucker, M.D., the new clinical chief of child and adolescent psychiatry, helped plan the facility to train department Fellows and treat children and adolescents with learning or behavior problems.
Meanwhile, leading the chronic pain clinic is John Bailey, M.D., an assistant professor who is board-certified in anesthesiology, pain and addictions treatment — triple boarded. In addition, UF faculty William Jacobs, M.D., and John Hunt, M.D., each have three board certifications related to pain evaluation and management and will be practicing at Springhill.
“Aside from their decades of experience, these triple-boarded experts are among a handful in the Southeast and are ideally trained to see complex cases where the person in pain is not getting relief, worries that they may be addicted to the medicine or needs a re-evaluation,” Gold said.
Another faculty member who brings a unique combination of skills to the psychiatry center is Louis Solomon, M.D., a neurosurgeon and a psychiatrist who co-directs the department’s Brain Stimulation Service.
Using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or rTMS, doctors use powerful magnetic fields that pulse in fractions of a second to induce a small electrical current in the brain.
“rTMS offers the chronically depressed patient an alternative to medications, psychotherapy or ECT,” said Teri Pigott, M.D., who heads the clinical trials service at Springhill, where patients can get new medications as part of clinical research or trials.
Also headquartered in the building will be the Forensic Institute, which provides consultations to private attorneys, the courts and governmental agencies. Currently it is staffed by four board-certified forensic psychiatrists and one forensic psychologist.
“Basically, forensic psychiatry is the place where psychiatry and the law overlap,” said Tonia Werner, M.D., co-director of the forensic program with Richard Greer, M.D. “The forensic psychiatrist evaluates the mental, drug and emotional factors that are most relevant to a legal case. We are excited about our new headquarters for a number of reasons, but in particular it will help us attract the very best Fellows. This new space has conference, office and evaluation capabilities that our former space lacked and will allow us to expand our one-year forensic psychiatry fellowship program, where psychiatrists come to spend a year with us to train.”
Patients who are interested in UF psychiatric services should call 352-265-5404.