Cheryl McCullumsmith, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor and director of the Consult-Liaison Division in the UAB Department of Psychiatry, has won third place in the impact category of the UAB Health System 2010 Innovation Awards for the “Transitional Psychiatric Clinic” (TPC). This clinic provides urgent follow-up for patients presenting in crisis to the emergency room who have no ability to access immediate psychiatric care. The clinic represents a unique partnership with a community organization and allows many patients to remain in the community and out of the hospital while receiving excellent psychiatric care.
Dr. McCullumsmith is expanding research into the unique needs of patients presenting to the emergency room in several venues. First, she is collaborating with other UAB psychiatry faculty to study and treat patients with suicidal ideation. The aim of this study is to approach suicidal thoughts as a reversible, treatable disorder of thought process. This project will examine the role of disordered thought processes and impulsivity in suicidal thinking, both with structured neuropsychological assessments and with functional MRI scans. Further, patients will be treated short term – a five day course-with medication aimed at helping the disordered thought process. Patients will be reassessed after this intervention. The project provides a completely novel approach to assessing and treating suicidal patients. The project further has the potential to help develop imaging markers of increased suicidal liability.
A second venue of research and clinical care development in the emergency room is to provide more comprehensive screening and brief motivational interventions for patients in the emergency room with substance use disorders. This project will help to identify individuals with unrecognized alcohol and substance use disorders and to help motivate them to get treatment, as well as providing an improved network of providers of care for substance use disorders. This project is done in collaboration with the department of emergency medicine, trauma surgery and UAB’s addiction recovery program.
Dr. McCullumsmith is a graduate of the University Of Michigan School of Medicine where she also completed her residency. She is a model clinician through her dedication and compassion for the mentally ill. Her hard work is a great example of the innovative work that is being developed and implemented here in the UAB Department of Psychiatry.