|Mark Hyman Rapaport, MD
Celebrating Little Treasures
This edition of BrainWaves focuses on a few of the many "hidden treasures" of our Department. Dr. Nadine Kaslow and her NIA Program is an important clinical and research program that focuses on helping abused and suicidal African-American women heal and successfully move on with their lives. This program changes the lives of women and their children. Our expanding schizophrenia training, treatment and research program at Grady Park Place outpatient clinic provides needed assessment and care for patients in Atlanta. This program provides in-depth state of the art diagnosis with innovative new treatment strategies and research. It is the only academic schizophrenia treatment program for all of Northern Georgia. Our Department in collaboration with the Student Health Center provides all the psychiatric care for Emory undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Our psychiatrists are specially trained clinicians who are participating in training residents and carrying out quality improvement research. These unheralded experts in young adult psychiatry play a crucial role in helping Emory University be a healthy and safe place for its diverse student body. There any many other "hidden treasures" in our Department such as our participation in the Emory Medical Home, Emory Transplant Center, and the Emory Infectious Disease Service in Midtown Atlanta. During the summer with our recent graduation of 56 trainees and welcoming of new faculty and trainees, it is a wonderful time to celebrate the success of some of our lesser known programs and thank the wonderful people who devote their professional lives to these efforts.
Empowering Women: Dr. Kaslow and the Grady Nia Project
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Nadine J. Kaslow, PhD, ABPP, may be best known as Chief Psychologist for Grady Health System, the past president of the American Psychological Association, and an internationally renowned expert on suicide. But when Dr. Kaslow reflects upon her priorities, one long-term undertaking stands out: the Grady Nia Project (Nia). Nia, the Swahili term for purpose, is an ongoing research initiative and clinical program for low-income African-American women who have survived intimate partner violence and an attempted suicide. It includes an evidence-based group intervention, as well as access to free counseling, support and skills groups, and psychiatric services at Grady. After 20 years in existence, more than 2,000 women have gone through the program.
While Dr. Kaslow juggles many other commitments -- including joint appointments in the Departments of Emergency Medicine, Pediatrics and the Rollins School of Public Health -- she remains passionate about Nia's mission and work.
"Even though domestic violence and suicidal ideation go together a lot, no other interventions target that specific group," says Dr. Kaslow, who also serves as Vice Chair for Faculty Development in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
"Low-income African American women often don't receive high quality resources," Dr. Kaslow explains. "So our prioritization is on providing high quality, culturally competent care to people who often don't have access to such services or have barriers to receiving that care which is unique."
Research shows that Nia works. "The intervention helps these women become less depressed and suicidal, and more able to cope with stress," Dr. Kaslow says. "Many women use Nia as a jumping-off point to tackle other life challenges, such as learning to read or becoming gainfully employed.
"It's all about empowering women to feel more effective," says Dr. Kaslow. "While theoretical models inform the work, the truth is that compassion guides us. We strive to go above and beyond the call of duty."
Find out more about the Nia Project at the Grady Nia Project website.
Grady's PSTAR Clinic
|PSTAR team members (L to R): Chelsea Hickerson, David Goldsmith, Rob Cotes, Sarah Kopelovich, Marie Faustin, Barbara Hartsfield|
Though new in name, the PSTAR ( Persistent Symptoms: treatment assessment and recovery) Clinic, led by Dr. Robert Cotes, is part of a long tradition of providing evidence-based, cutting-edge treatments for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness at Grady. The clinic follows in the footsteps and builds on the work of the clinic for Alternative Treatment Strategies and the Clozapine Clinic. The mission of the clinic is to systematically evaluate, treat, and promote recovery for individuals with persistent symptoms of psychosis, or what some have called treatment resistant schizophrenia. The team consists of Dr. David Goldsmith, Dr. Sarah Kopelovich, Barbara Hartsfield APRN, two rotating third-year psychiatry residents, and a volunteer, Jonathon Widener. Despite specializing in the medication clozapine and nearly tripling the number of active patients on clozapine since 2012, the clinic feels strongly that pharmacologic interventions alone are insufficient to foster and sustain recovery for individuals with psychotic symptoms. PSTAR actively promotes the idea of combining the available psychosocial treatments including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for psychosis, Illness Management and Recovery, supported employment, Psychosocial Rehabilitation (PSR), and family therapy with evidence-based psychopharmacology. The PSTAR Clinic also serves as a research center investigating interventions that may target persistent symptoms.
The clinic is currently recruiting subjects for a study investigating the role of an anti-inflammatory medication in patients who take clozapine. Future studies are in the planning stages as PSTAR continues to grow. The clinic is available to provide one-time consultations to individuals with persistent symptoms and their families, or to follow individuals on a longitudinal basis. Dr. Cotes and his staff look forward to expanding the clinic in the near future in order to continue to improve access to high quality evidence-based treatments aimed at supporting individuals in their pursuit of health, self-determination, and meaning within the community.