Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (HRRMC) has announced an expansion of psychiatry services via videoconferencing in the Salida hospital’s Outpatient Pavilion, located at 1000 Rush Drive.

(Courtesy photo)

Ronie Schafer, a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, will offer telepsychiatry services for HRRMC patients, beginning Sept. 18. She will collaborate with Dr. Joshua Hogins of HRRMC Psychiatry Services to better meet the mental health needs of the community.

“It’s a widely known fact that there is a nationwide shortage of psychiatric providers. We are so fortunate that we employ Dr. Hogins, an excellent psychiatrist,” said HRRMC Vice President of Business Development Peter Edis. “However, the demand for his clinic services has grown to the point that one provider can no longer keep up. Consequently, we made the decision to expand our outpatient psychiatric services through Ronie Schafer, a telepsychiatric nurse practitioner.”

“Advancements in televideo technology, coupled with access to a highly qualified provider, make this an ideal option to help meet the demand. Both providers will focus primarily on medication management.”

Patients who need mental health counseling will be referred to Solvista Health and/or one of the private providers in the community,” Edis added.

Schafer has a master’s degree in public health and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. She then earned a master’s degree in the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program at the University of Colorado Denver. She is board certified as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

“Psychiatry is a natural fit for telehealth services. In this model, patients can come to the clinic, have their vital signs taken by the nursing team, and then see a provider in a real-time, face-to-face televideo session. The session involves an assessment, diagnosis and treatment,” said Schafer.

“Patients can expect the same level of care they would receive in a typical office appointment. I have provided telepsychiatry services in both outpatient and inpatient settings for a community mental health center that serves a diverse patient population in the Denver Metro Area. I take a clinically appropriate, collaborative approach to patient care so that patients feel empowered in their mental health choices. I look forward to working with the people of Salida and the surrounding communities.”

HRRMC Psychiatry has confirmed that it is accepting new patients and referrals are not needed. Common conditions treated include depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and ADHD. For more information or to make an appointment, call 719-530-2000.