Published in Health Care
Left: Tina Freese Decker, right: Mark Eastburg Left: Tina Freese Decker, right: Mark Eastburg COURTESY PHOTOS

Spectrum Health, Pine Rest partner for teletherapy service

BY Monday, September 30, 2019 03:22pm

GRAND RAPIDS — Spectrum Health and Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services launched a teletherapy service to widen access to behavioral health care across the state.

The service uses the Spectrum Health Now mobile app to treat anxiety, depression, grief, stress and sadness. Adult patients using the app can get assistance from behavioral health providers from Spectrum Health or Pine Rest within 48 hours.

“We expect this arrangement will not only make behavioral health care more readily and immediately available but also will decrease the stigma around mental health services as people access care in the privacy of their own homes,” Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker said in a statement.

The teletherapy service is covered by most health insurers, according to an announcement today from Pine Rest and Spectrum Health, which have run their own telehealth services for years.

Spectrum Health launched video visits for primary care in 2015 to treat minor conditions such as fever, allergies and rashes. The service recently surpassed 100,000 visits. Spectrum Health also provides a telemedicine service for patients to connect with medical specialists.

Pine Rest has offered telehealth services since 2013. Pine Rest provided 25,000 telehealth services visits in the last year.

The service launches after a recent study by the Michigan Health Endowment Fund showed that 46 percent of people with anxiety disorders and 53 percent of people with depressive episodes go untreated partly because of provider shortages.

“Mental health is perfect for telemedicine. It doesn’t require hands-on care and is primarily a verbal intervention,” stated Mark Eastburg, president and CEO at Pine Rest. “Ten years from now, I hope our community can say we’ve figured out the mental health access problem. Partnering with Spectrum Health is one great step toward that goal.”

Earlier this year, Pine Rest also opened a psychiatric urgent care center at its Cutlerville campus. The center works to assess and treat adults experiencing psychiatric symptoms for depression, anxiety, panic attacks, disturbing or suicidal thoughts, acute grief or substance use disorders.

Initial access to the Spectrum/Pine Rest teletherapy service is available by calling 1-844-322-7374.

People with suicidal thoughts or more urgent behavioral health needs should call 911 or go to the local Emergency Department or call the confidential National Suicide Prevention Hotline, which is free and available 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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