The Block Island Times

A welcome breakthrough for mental health services

Apr 28, 2012

Last week’s visit from representatives of the Alpert Medical School at Brown University and Butler Hospital represents a giant step forward for improving the delivery of mental health and addiction services on Block Island.
Much work remains to nail down all the details, but the visiting delegation made clear that it is committed to implementing a program. The visitors included Stephen Rasmussen, Interim Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the Alpert Medical School, as well as senior staff members Dr. Jane Eisen and Dr. Robert Boland.
The program would enlist third and fourth year medical residents supervised by medical staff to deliver care over a secure internet link, using video and audio technology similar to Skype, from Butler Hospital and perhaps on occasion even on the island.
Mental health disorders and addiction are diseases requiring medical attention. Isolated by the ocean, Block Island residents face unusual challenges in accessing care. On the island especially, issues of privacy and stigmatization can be enormous obstacles to those seeking help. The new program offers privacy and the promise of free or affordable care for all that seek it.
It is really a win-win proposition. The benefit to the Block Island community is obvious. The Brown medical residents will gain valuable experience in a technology and technique of care-delivery that shows growing promise especially for rural communities.
A tip of the hat to the Block Island Mental Health Task Force, the Alpert Medical School at Brown, and Rev. Steve Hollaway for his leadership in the effort. Also not to be overlooked is the generous and visionary financial support of island resident, Dr. Michael Brownstein.

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