DMU opens new Behavioral Health Clinic

Leaders of Des Moines University, the Polk County Board of Supervisors and Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino on Friday cut a ribbon to officially open DMU’s new Behavioral Health Clinic and make much-needed mental health care services available to Iowans.

Located in the DMU Clinic at 3200 Grand Ave., the new center received financial support from Polk County supervisors and Prairie Meadows’ Legacy Grant Program.

“While this event is in part ceremonial, it also represents a significant step in efforts by our University and our community to address a moral, medical and financial catastrophe in Iowa and around the world – the dire lack of access to mental health care,” said DMU President and CEO Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D. “As a clinical psychologist and president of a graduate of health sciences institution, I am passionate about the importance of good mental health. And I am so deeply grateful that others in our community, including the Polk County Board of Supervisors and Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, share that passion.”

Among the Behavioral Health Clinic providers is Adam Bertroche, D.O., a DMU graduate. He completed a four-year psychiatry residency at the University of Kansas School of Medicine, where he received an Excellence in Scholarship Award. As chief psychiatry resident, he supervised all Kansas School of Medicine psychiatry residents working at the Kansas City Veterans Hospital. At the ribbon-cutting, he noted statistics that reveal the great need for mental health services:

  • According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), nearly half of the 60 million adults and children living with mental health conditions in the United States go without treatment.
  • Iowa is one of the lowest states in the nation in the number of psychiatrists per capita. Of its 99 counties, 89 are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas in mental health.
  • Mental illness is very costly in terms of quality of life, safety and productivity. The American Journal of Psychiatry and the U.S. Surgeon General estimate the cost of lost earnings due to mental health issues is $193 billion just in the United States.

“These statistics tell a bleak story of the access barriers to mental health treatment in the United States and our community. However, we now have the opportunity to help mitigate these deficits in mental health care,” Dr. Bertroche said. “With sufficient resources and access to mental health services, we can dramatically reduce the heavy burden of mental illness within our community by providing competent and compassionate care.”

Joining Dr. Bertroche in the clinic will be a multidisciplinary team of providers including Abigail Schiltz, a physician assistant, and an assortment of counselors and therapists including psychologists, social workers and mental health counselors. Patients started to be seen on the re-designed floor in November. A continuity clinic for third-year psychiatry residents from Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines is planned to start in July. Student rotations will begin after the first of the year. The addition of the clinic as a rotation site is critical as there aren’t many psychiatry rotation opportunities.

“This will not only be a site that has the ability to provide a high level of care, but also to foster the development of medical trainees in addressing, recognizing and treating people who suffer from mental illness,” Dr. Bertroche said. “It will be a consistent rotation site for DMU students…and a rotation site for psychiatry residents in local programs to practice with oversight. There will be a wealth of opportunities in the years to come.”

The new Behavioral Health Clinic on the seventh floor of the DMU Clinic tower is photographed Monday, November 22, 2021. (DMU Photo by Brett T. Roseman)

Polk County Supervisor Angela Connolly said the opening of the new clinic couldn’t have come at a better time.

“We have seen mental health issues in both children and adults almost tripling because of the COVID pandemic. At the same time we are struggling to find enough mental health professionals to meet this growing need,” she said. “The Board of Supervisors is thankful that DMU recognized this gap and is stepping up to make a really big impact on this issue. We are so proud to support this clinic and DMU’s efforts. They have been outstanding community partners.”

Julie Stewart, vice president of community relations at Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, noted the new clinic fit her organization’s purpose of giving back to local organizations, including those that support human services.

“At Prairie Meadows, we are dedicated to transforming the lives of those living in central Iowa. We are proud and excited to support this and many other projects in our community,” she said. “A key component of our purpose is giving back to organizations, including those that support human services. This new clinic will provide much-needed services in our community.”

The Behavioral Health Clinic is part of DMU’s larger commitment to help meet the need for mental health services and train future mental health care providers. Four years ago, to strengthen the mental health component of its osteopathic medical curriculum, the University began a partnership with NAMI to offer its provider training program to D.O. students. DMU is the nation’s first medical school to require this important training.

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