Feature Story

Clinical Psychologist Assimilates Mental Health with Primary Care, Leading to Improved Patient Experience

Clinical Psychologist Mitch Radin teaches in a classroom

With the addition of a psychiatric nurse to MVNA, supported by the Baxter International Foundation, the agency can now serve a higher number of clients with a mental health diagnosis, leading to increased care for patients and improved individual health.

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the ninth leading cause of death is suicide. Residents with a serious mental illness do not live past an average age of 58, while those without mental illness live to an average age of 82. With the addition of a psychiatric registered nurse to MVNA, supported in part by the Baxter International Foundation, the agency can now serve a higher number of clients with a mental health diagnosis, leading to increased access to care for patients and improved individual health.

In his new role, clinical psychologist Mitch Radin has provided direct care to more than 150 new clients that receive multiple home care visits, which prove critical to their health. Indirectly, Mitch has impacted more than 100 caregivers and family members that assist these clients through individual consultations, joint home visits, monthly didactic trainings, conferences, and the introduction of a new mental health profile intended to raise awareness and open discussion with clients regarding salient behavioral health issues.

“Mitch has significantly helped the staff overcome the anxiety of caring for patients with mental health issues,” Julie Endres-Spray, director of home health at MVNA, said. “That transparency is something we didn’t anticipate, and our staff is better equipped to treat patients with his support as a resource.”

Mitch came to MVNA with extensive prior experience in community mental health, such as conducting assessments with police officers and firefighters and leading crisis interventions. In his sessions with nurses, he emphasizes the stigma that is often associated with mental health and medical issues and shows nurses how they can combat that among patients and their families. By increasing the coordination between mental and primary healthcare, hospital re-admissions are likely to lessen.

“Nurses are an extremely dedicated, confident group of people who have to deal with an enormous amount on their plate, more so than other healthcare professionals because they are in the most direct contact with the patient,” Mitch said. “By training them to better recognize mental health needs of their patients, you’re allowing patients to garner the necessary treatment at the forefront and lessen the chance for additional hospitalization.”

“Nurses are an extremely dedicated, confident group of people who have to deal with an enormous amount on their plate, more so than other healthcare professionals because they are in the most direct contact with the patient. By training them to better recognize mental health needs of their patients, you’re allowing patients to garner the necessary treatment at the forefront and lessen the chance for additional hospitalization.”

– Mitch Radin, clinical psychologist at MVNA

Mitch describes his educational assistance for nurses as a glacial approach where even the smallest benefits can have a huge impact. He notes nurses, as the primary care provider for most home visits, garner greater trust in patients, which is ultimately the goal to ensure they receive the best possible healthcare. The impact of his role has significantly enhanced the agency’s scope of patient care by serving a higher number of clients with a mental health diagnosis.

As a result of Mitch’s work, clients’ rate of hospital re-admissions is expected to decrease from more than 15 percent to 10 percent due to the stabilization of client’s care in their home environment. Moreover, MVNA has not recorded any hospital re-admissions for people with primary or secondary behavioral health diagnoses and 90 percent of clients are demonstrating the ability to self-manage their medications, ultimately increasing their self-sufficiency and independence to remain healthy in the community.

Through Mitch’s role, Baxter and the Baxter International Foundation continue its mission to improve access to care in a comprehensive manner. MVNA was given more than $116,000 over a year period for Mitch to impact both new and current patients and their family members, as well as increase the number of patients reaching self-sufficiency and independence to reliably and safely self-manage their medication. Mitch has also built the skills and knowledge base of more than 40 staff members to sustain the program beyond the grant’s funding and positively influence the lives of more patients for years to come.

“I’ve been really lucky, as the nurses have great enthusiasm to learn with what I have to offer,” Mitch said,” and those teachings are passed down to positively impact patients’ lives.”