The Block Island Times

Mental Health Task Force appoints case worker

By Gloria S. Redlich | Nov 21, 2012

The Block Island Mental Health Task Force has announced the appointment of Tracy Fredericks as case worker for the telemedicine program that is just weeks away from its start-up.

The program will offer mental health services to the island community through a live computer video link with physicians at Butler Hospital in Providence. The telemedicine hook-up is meant to offer islanders face-to-face contact with professional health providers without having to leave the island.

Fredericks will be the contact person for individuals seeking to take advantage of the new service. People may call her with questions, to learn details and to make appointments. She sees her new role as opening up “an absolutely confidential” resource on the island. She will introduce individuals to the physicians they will be working with and help them become familiar and comfortable with the equipment.

She explains she has been working out a way for people to use the computer without anyone else present, while she remains in a nearby room to offer assistance if needed.

The island draws you back

For the past eight years, the Windsor, Conn., native has lived on island pretty much full time. “I’ve been coming here all my life including summers,” she says, from the time she was a youngster sailing out with her parents and staying on their fishing boat. Her dad loved to fish the island’s waters. Over the years, Fredericks found herself returning to the island, and notes, “It draws you back. Once, I came out for a visit and within six months was back out here.”

In between those returns, Fredericks studied at Purdue University and earned a Bachelor’s in psychology, after which she worked as a psychiatric technician at a psychiatric hospital in Indiana. Later, she took classes at the University of Rhode Island and the University of New Hampshire in another area of growing interest, environmental science. She then moved to New Hampshire where for a decade she worked at a marine science center.

AmeriCorps grant for BIED

Two years ago, Fredericks received an AmeriCorps grant/stipend to work with Block Island Economic Development. For a year she helped people navigate government programs for things such as heating assistance, food stamps and job hunting. During that time, she says, one of the things she found particularly gratifying was working with Mary Donnelly in distributing aid through the Mary D. Fund.

Recently, Fredericks has been doing online training under the guidance of Dr. Robert Boland of Brown University and Butler. Next week she is going to do onsite classes at Butler, where she will meet the physicians and residents who will be directly involved in the island program. She also will have the opportunity to tour the Butler campus and facilities.

In the meantime, she has been working on the private room set aside at the Harbor Baptist Church, making sure it is comfortable and checking out the technology.

Fredericks anticipates that the program will be up and running sometime during the week after Thanksgiving. She stresses that people do not have to wait until then to contact her, and says a few have already called.

Fredericks can be reached at (207) 229-6349. She wishes to reassure those phoning that if she does not answer the phone immediately, she will always return their calls.

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