UC's Department of Psychiatry has had its sights set on improving behavioral health care in Greater Cincinnati, the surrounding region and the world through clinical research.
Thanks to a $30 million gift from the Craig and Frances Lindner and Carl H. and Edyth Lindner Jr. families, that goal will now be achieved.
The Lindners' gift will establish the Craig and Frances Lindner Center of HOPE (Helping Other People Excel) in the psychiatry department, and will allow UC and the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati to build a behavioral health center in Mason, Ohio.
The Lindner Center will be an overarching program integrating patient care, education and research. The new behavioral health facility will offer comprehensive treatment services for adolescents and adults with psychiatric illnesses.
Paul Keck, MD, professor of psychiatry at UC, will serve as medical director of the Lindner Center and will hold an endowed chair funded by the Lindner Foundation, pending approval by the UC Board of Trustees.
"Psychiatry has long been a field that has worked on a mission of disease maintenance," says Dr. Hillard. "Physicians in other disciplines have recognized that more can be done toward curing diseases."
One example Dr. Hillard cites is cancer treatment. Oncologists and other care givers, Dr. Hillard says, have set the bar for incorporating clinical research into cancer treatment plans.
"State-of-the-art cancer care incorporates clinical research into treatment," says Dr. Hillard. "Many cancers recently regarded as universally fatal can now be cured.
"It's important to push care in that direction--making new and experimental treatments available as soon as possible," adds Dr. Hillard. "We believe clinical research is equally important for psychiatric illness and we hope this new facility will be the beginning of a model for others."
The behavioral health center, staffed by UC faculty, most of whom are conducting clinical research, will offer some of the most advanced treatment options and diagnostic capabilities.
UC plans to provide patients with thorough neuroendocrine evaluations and neuroimaging tests--diagnostic tools that are showing great promise in psychiatry by speeding up and making diagnosis more accurate.
Treatment plans will be individualized and will take into account physical, psychological, social, cultural, educational, spiritual and vocational factors. The facility will also offer types of proven treatment currently not available in the region, such as magnetic brain stimulation and vagal nerve stimulation.
UC's Department of Psychiatry already ranks among the top 25 psychiatry departments funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It has jumped from 77th in FY 1996 to 23rd in FY 2004 and routinely receives $10 to $15 million per year from the NIH and another $5 million annually from other sources.
Dr. Hillard hopes that by blending research and education with patient care at the new facility, the department will boost its rankings--he and his colleagues have their eyes set on the top 10.
"We think this gift will give us the leverage we need to bring in even more federal funding," says Dr. Hillard.
There are currently no behavioral health inpatient treatment facilities in Warren County, one of the region's fastest growing population centers. And, notes Dr. Hillard, the occupancy rate for behavioral health beds in the Greater Cincinnati area ordinarily runs at 85 percent or more, indicating the need for the facility.
The Health Alliance currently treats 50 percent of the inpatient behavioral health patients and about 71 percent of the structured outpatient behavioral health patients in the Greater Cincinnati area.
"Mental illnesses impact the lives of many people," says Craig Lindner. "It's a privilege for our family to be involved with this state-of-the-science center, which will deliver comprehensive care and will support and attract the very best clinicians and researchers in this field."
The behavioral health center will be jointly operated by the Health Alliance and the Lindner Foundation, and staffed by physicians from UC College of Medicine.