UofL Health – Peace Hospital and UofL Physicians are extending access to behavioral health services to the fingertips of those in need of help. PeaceNow leverages telehealth technology to help providers, school counselors and social workers refer patients, students and clients for assessment. PeaceNow does not replace acute/crisis level intervention provided by emergency departments, Peace Hospital and 911, but it can significantly reduce wait time and expedite care.
“The window of time when people are willing to accept behavioral health help is sometimes narrow,” said Kelly Gillooly, M. Ed., LCADC, UofL Health system director of Behavioral Health. “With PeaceNow, the 3-4 month waiting period has been reduced to days and eliminated in some cases. The virtual environment allows us to see many referred patients immediately or on the same day.”
A PeaceNow pilot program began in July 2022, opening first to referrals from UofL Physicians. In its first six months, more than 1,200 patients have been served. Today, referrals are accepted from all providers, mental health therapists, school counselors and social workers in Jefferson County and surrounding Kentucky counties. Future plans include adding Indiana counties, following regulatory approvals.
“Physical health and behavioral health cannot be separated. One influences the other and I see the impact of both with my patients,” said Traci Edwards, M.D., UofL Physicians – Primary Care. “Primary care physicians are ideally suited to refer for behavioral assessments since we know they already have the relationships, know the health history and are located all across the community.”
Referrals to PeaceNow are open to patients age 12 and above with a range of mental and substance use concerns, including:
- Substance use disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Other mental health
“Individuals seeking care for their mental health are often met with long wait times before they receive appropriate treatment. This delay increases the likelihood that their symptoms and condition may worsen before care is provided,” said Nancy Brooks, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Louisville chapter. “The access to more immediate professional care that is now being offered through PeaceNow will help many individuals bridge the gap between the onset of mental health concerns and proper diagnosis and treatment.”
Telebehavioral health assessments, through PeaceNow will be performed by a clinical psychologist or a licensed therapist, with additional referrals to the appropriate level of care. Some brief therapy may also occur over the telehealth platform. All care will be supervised by psychiatrists and psychiatric APRN’s, who will also provide clinical services to patients.
“The virtual assessment may not entirely replace the need for in-person therapy, but it is a critical new access point,” said Robert Caudill, M.D., UofL Physicians – Psychiatry and Depression Center and professor of psychiatry at University of Louisville. “By launching PeaceNow, we hope to make behavioral health more accessible and expedite the connection of patients to definitive care.”
Older adults may be referred through PeaceNow to the Republic Bank Foundation Optimal Aging Clinic at the University of Louisville Trager Institute.
“Our focus at the Trager Institute is on older adults. It is estimated that 20% of people age 55 or older experience some type of mental health concern, such as anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, depression or bipolar disorder,” said Anna Faul, Ph.D., executive director of the institute. “Combining the PeaceNow team and the Trager team, we believe that we are filling a void in our community that will lead to better health outcomes in the future.”
More information on PeaceNow is available through your primary care provider, mental health therapist, school counselor, social worker or at: UofLHealth.org/programs/peacenow/.