LUBBOCK, Texas — Covenant Children’s and Texas Tech Physicians – Psychiatry opened the region’s first outpatient relational health center at Covenant Children’s Hospital.
The center, which opened late summer, provides a continuum of outpatient services from education and prevention services to group interventions for children and parents to individualized therapy and medication management.
The center also will provide the region’s first partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient program for youth with mental health distress.
Dr. Amy Thompson, CEO of Children’s Covenant, said they want to provide care in the South Plains by giving children and their families a safe place to do that.
“We have chosen to call it relational health, because I hate the stigma that goes with mental health, behavioral health, that the idea is that those spaces that we have typically call those things are all about our relationships, our relationships with ourselves, relationships with the world that we have, our families, and learning how to navigate those relationships,” Dr. Thompson said.
Dr. Thompson said the facility is long overdue in West Texas, which was believed to have a dry spell for mental health resources, especially for children.
“We’ve talked about this for years and years and years and what I will tell you is in the state of Texas, in the United States, wherever you want to talk about it, we just have a lack of resources and a lack of services that are in that relational health space,” Dr. Thompson said.
According to Dr. Thompson, the average wait time in the United States for a child to be seen by a physiatrist is at least one year.
“If you have a kid who’s suicidal, you have a year to wait, you don’t have a day to wait like you need resources to be able to get those kids in quickly in a crisis,” Dr. Thompson said. “But the second part of what we want to do is to keep kids from getting in crisis.”
With a team of experts working in the center Dr. Thompson said they are hoping to be a resource the community takes advantage of.
“We’ve got a mixture of psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health counselors, social workers that are all in this space and working together to get kids into the appropriate place for treatment,” Dr. Thompson said.
Dr. Thompson also talked about their telehealth services and broadening the number of patients they can reach.
“If you’re a primary care doctor in Lamesa and you have a child who comes in in crisis, you have the ability through telehealth to also connect to this clinic and be able to get expert advice so that we can treat patients where they’re at in our region,” Dr. Thomson said.
Dr. Sarah Wakefield with the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center said they’re looking forward to being a resource the community can rely on.
“It creates a team infrastructure and really a family… I think of all health care intervention and especially relational health and mental and behavioral health, this is a community,” Dr Wakefield said.
“This is a community need and it requires a community response, and we are building that infrastructure to provide a community to respond to our community needs.”
This center was opened at Covenant Children’s because Dr. Thompson and Dr. Wakefield believe relational health belongs at the hospital to improve access and reduce the mental health stigma.
TTUHSC’s Department of Psychiatry also relocated all of their children’s services to this center, and through this collaboration, new and much-needed intensive services will be opened to expand the scope of services provided in Lubbock for the wider region.