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New Ulm Medical Center

Bringing child and adolescent psychiatric care closer to home

Residents who live in or near New Ulm may no longer need to travel if they find themselves in need of certain child and adolescent psychiatric services.

That’s because Linda Zarrett, a clinical nurse specialist with expertise in child and adolescent psychiatry, now works at New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) – part of Allina Health.

With Zarrett’s addition to the New Ulm staff, parents have someone nearby who can help with medication management for issues in children such as ADHD, ADD, trauma, grief, depression and anxiety.

Until now, parents who needed psychiatric care for their child or teenager may have had to wait months for an appointment with a specialist in the Twin Cities. They could have also used telemedicine, in which a provider offers care via an Internet connection; however, that’s not always an easy option to manage with children. Family practice doctors or pediatricians are another avenue for help, though Zarrett noted that their offices can get overwhelmed.

“It will be a nice option for parents and local doctors to have someone here who works with children and adolescents,” said Zarrett, who started at NUMC in mid-September.

“Having Linda Zarrett will boost our resources and make care easier and more accessible,” said Greg Omori, a social worker with NUMC.

Providing well-rounded care

A big part of what Zarrett does is to provide therapy to children and teenagers, and identify medication management techniques that might help make the therapy more effective. A goal with many children is to help them manage the conditions they have so that they eventually no longer need medication, said Zarrett.

She also works with other child and adolescent specialists at NUMC, as well as with parents and even teachers. “Kids do best with a comprehensive approach,” she said.

“With Linda coming, we will be able to provide a wonderful coordination of care,” said social worker Bonnie Beranek-Fortwengler.

Zarrett’s addition to New Ulm will round out the outpatient mental health therapies that Beranek-Fortwengler and Omori provide for children and teenagers. For example, certain kinds of “play therapies” engage a child with toys or games while therapists ask questions that help them better understand the child’s problem. Cognitive behavioral therapy is used to let children talk about what they think of a problem and to guide them in figuring out what they can do differently to approach it.

Some therapeutic services used with children at NUMC include hand puppets, board games and reading. These kinds of therapies help to develop trust and give children the chance to speak freely without an intense direct conversation.

To schedule an appointment with the outpatient mental health services at New Ulm Medical Center, call 507-217-5168.