The Benefits of Addressing Mental Health and Physical Health

Westchester Jewish Community Services (WJCS) is the largest provider of community-based outpatient mental health services. In caring for the mental health needs of clients, addressing their physical health needs is often necessary to achieve the best overall health outcomes for them. At WJCS, our team of Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) supports both the mental and physical health of our clients. 

Specifically, LPNs in each of our clinics meet with all new admissions for Health Monitoring Visits. During these visits LPNs check vital signs, administer injectable medications, screen for medical problems, provide health education, recognize and connect clients with emergency services when needed, and refer clients to primary care physicians. 

Our Medical Director, Dr. John Douglas supervises the LPNs at WJCS. According to Dr. Douglas, “Our LPNs are critical to supporting both the psychiatric and medical care of all the clients we serve. LPNs enable our Psychiatric Staff to work at the top of their licenses and facilitate our caring for people as a whole.”

Below are just two examples of when our LPNs made a significant difference in the lives of our clients: 

1. During a Health Monitoring Visit, one of our LPNs was conducting a health screening on a 33-year-old female client who had recently been discharged from a psychiatric hospital and started on a new medication. While meeting with the LPN, the client complained of neck and shoulder stiffness. She was also having trouble moving her tongue and could not speak clearly. The LPN immediately recognized the client was having a medical complication and brought her to see one of our nurse practitioners who recognized the client was having an acute dystonic reaction. The nurse practitioner educated the client about what was happening and referred the client to an emergency room. The LPN helped ensure the client made it to the emergency room where the client received treatment and recovered. The LPN called the client the next day and the client reported feeling much better. The LPN scheduled an initial psychiatric assessment which the client received a few days later. The client continues to receive ongoing psychiatric treatment at WJCS along with individual therapy and is now doing well. The LPN also helped the client establish care with a primary care physician.

2. While meeting with another of our LPNs during a Health Monitoring Visit, a 79-year-old female client’s blood pressure was found by the LPN to be extremely low. The client lived alone and had a history of schizophrenia, multiple psychiatric hospitalizations, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and osteoarthritis. The client acknowledged feeling dizzy to the LPN during the Health Monitoring Visit. The LPN then elevated the client’s legs and gave her some salty crackers with tuna and water. The LPN observed the client for about 60 minutes and then checked her blood pressure again which, fortunately, had increased. Before the client returned home, the LPN recommended that the client schedule an appointment with her primary care physician, who the client had, “not seen for a while.” This recommendation promoted the client to see her primary care physician soon after. The primary care physician arranged for the client to have a home health aide to assist with the activities of daily living and administer the client’s medications. These interventions significantly improved both the client’s physical and mental health. The client is now doing well. 

To learn more about Westchester Jewish Community Services, please go to www.wjcs.com.