As of early July, the waitlist for new patients and families wishing to be seen by any one of our clinicians for an initial Pediatric Psychiatry Evaluation is about 6 weeks, once we have received the completed packet of rating scales and questionnaires. While any delay for a family in need can feel unacceptably long, we have worked hard to keep this waitlist to a minimum during a challenging period. In addition to our own clinical reduction of one child psychiatrist here at the VCCYF, there have also been other clinicians in the community that have closed their practice recently, resulting in large number of families needing someone new for psychiatric care. There further remains little progress in outpatient child psychiatry access in northeastern New York, with families often traveling 5 hours or more roundtrip to be seen here in Burlington.
What can be done in the meantime? Remember that all Vermont primary care clinicians can sign up at no cost to have one of the child psychiatrists or nurse practitioners be assigned to your practice and be available for phone or email “curbside” questions. To register, contact Eliza Pillard at firstname.lastname@example.org. This service is made available by the Vermont Child Health Improvement Program or VCHIP.
It is also important to keep our voices heard when it comes to our elected officials. There seems to be lots of discussion about improving child mental health care here in Vermont and across the country but having talk turn to action will require continued advocacy .