MEDFORD, Ore. — “There’s a lot of problems with the mental health system. And patients aren’t really able to get the care they need when they need it,” said Paul Fickes, owner and psychiatrict nurse practitioner at ‘Paradigm Mental Health and Wellness.’
The sea of mental health resources can be difficult to navigate especially when you or a loved one are in crisis.
But what about non-emergency care when you just need someone to evaluate you or refill your prescription?
That’s where Fickes comes in.
The psychiatric nurse practitioner opened his new Medford-based mental health clinic last week.
The walk-in clinic can prescribe patients who have commercial insurance the medication they need the same day they visit.
“When I was working in the emergency department, some of the hardest people to get follow up psychiatric care for was people with commercial insurance,” said Fickes.
Fickes says he developed the idea while working at Asante Rogue Regional’s behavioral health unit also known as ‘two north.’
The unit provides emergency, in patient care if you are a harm to yourself or others.
“When you work at two north, you see the same patients coming in again and again and again,” said Fickes.
He says the problem isn’t the patient care offered at Asante.
It’s what happens when you leave.
“Whether it’s they’ve lost their medications at the park or whether they’re having a reemergence of symptoms from their chronic illness. They often don’t have the follow up they need on an outpatient basis. Outpatient meaning clinics, someone that they’re seeing regularly outside the hospital,” he said.
Fickes says other outpatient clinics can have lengthy wait times for medication services.
“They do their in-take appointment and then they say you need medications. And they might see you on the first visit and say you need labs before you get your medication. So, you add up all that time and months have gone by where someone may have a serious mental illness and be untreated,” said Fickes.
Fickes says the same goes for psychiatrists or psychiatric nurse practitioners like himself that are available by appointment only.
NBC5 News called a few offices to find out.
We were told it could take weeks to months to get an appointment.
“It’s supply and demand, it’s the need. They’re full. I want to be someone in the community that can bring a voice to mental health care and the mental health population,” he said.
Fickes says he’s also working on getting credentialed with the Oregon Health Plan.
Click here for more information about the clinic and its hours.
Amanda Rose is a multimedia journalist for NBC5 News. Amanda graduated from Columbia University earning a Master’s degree in Journalism. She also received a Bachelor’s degree in English with a specialization in literature from the University of British Columbia.
She’s a Los Angeles native, but is thrilled to return to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and is passionate about reporting on the criminal justice system.