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New Ulm Medical Center

NUMC making mental health services more convenient

Mental health is just as important as physical well-being. Having to travel long distances for routine care, however, may prevent some people from receiving the help they need.

In order to meet the needs of more local residents, New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) offers outpatient mental health services at two off-site locations.

"In addition to the primary location at New Ulm Medical Center, we partner with the Springfield Medical Center to offer services there. We also have an office in Mankato," said psychologist Doug Fox, PhD, clinical coordinator for outpatient psychiatry at NUMC. "It's much more convenient. Patients coming from areas west of New Ulm can just come to Springfield and cut their traveling time in half. Patients who live east of New Ulm have the Mankato office, and also don't have to travel as far."

Convenience is key

The fact that residents in communities as far as Revere do not have to make the roughly 50-mile drive to New Ulm to receive mental health services is even more important once the temperatures drop and winter sets in.

"Especially in Minnesota, seeking help in the winter months can be tough. It is a whole lot easier to drive a few miles than drive for 30 minutes to make it to a therapy session," Fox said. "When something is more convenient, it’s more of an option."

This is particularly true for people trying to schedule their appointments during a break at work or their lunch hour, he said. "You can't drive half an hour during lunch for a therapy session and make it back to work on time," he says. "Having a closer option may not interfere with a patient's work day."

Making sure residents get care

In addition to emergency mental health services, NUMC’s off-site locations for mental health services provide routine outpatient therapy for a broad-range of mental health issues.

"Many times, we are dealing with adults with behavioral issues, emotional issues, and at times, major mental illnesses," Fox said. “Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, are among the most common mental health issues treated in Springfield and Mankato.”

Adults with mental health issues who are undergoing treatment for a chemical dependency can also receive additional care at the Mankato office in connection with the services provided by their treatment counselor.

Children as young as age 3 may also receive mental health care at the Springfield location. Common problems among this age group are behavioral issues, such as fears and separation anxiety. School-age children can also receive treatment for anything that is affecting their academic progress, such as anxiety, ADHD or oppositional behavior.

Care for the whole family

Although the office in Mankato was previously limited to adult patients, Linda Zarrett, a clinical nurse specialist with advanced training in family-centered care joined the staff in mid-September. That care involves education, support, and advocacy for children and teens with all types of mental health problems, ranging from ADHD to psychosis.

Zarrett can provide assessment services and prescribe psychiatric medications for children and teens. She also works closely with the children's therapists at NUMC. See the related article in today’s Health Edition for more information about Zarrett’s practice.

Fox currently sees adult patients as well as children at the Springfield location from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.

For roughly the past year, licensed psychologist Betsy Anderson has held office hours in the Mankato office. Adults can schedule appointments with Anderson on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Appointments for children and teens with Linda Zarrett, Clinical Nurse Specialist, are also available at the Mankato office on Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To schedule an appointment with the outpatient mental health services at any of NUMC’s locations, call 507-217-5168.