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Student Counseling Services contracted out psychiatry services to TriHealth, changed primary care model

Student Counseling Services (SCS) has contracted out their psychiatry services to TriHealth in a move to make care more accessible to Miami University students.

Dr. John Ward, director of SCS, said he is excited about the benefits the changes will bring.

"Our traditional model was running uncomfortably long wait times," Ward said. "The solution was to open access to support. Students will get in sooner, and more students will have access to psychiatric care."

The new primary care model is an integrative model that is part of a nationally recognized program.

Cyndi Traficant, TriHealth practice manager for Miami Health Services, said the model will improve care in multiple ways, including engaging with primary care earlier before a psychiatric evaluation.

"We are excited to do this in real time, and we have a commitment to this model," Traficant said.

Under the new model when a student calls into SCS, they will now have an initial evaluation within 24-48 hours in the less-busy times of the year. The wait is expected to be three days at most during high-volume times, such as finals week.

Ward explained the new system will allow for at least four evaluations per day, whereas the old system only had the capacity for two to three.

In response to the student concerns that have circulated regarding wait times and copays under the new system, Ward was surprised.

"I'm wondering if they didn't understand the new shift," Ward said. "These are a lot of misconceptions, and we don't want false information to spread."

Associated Student Government (ASG) president, Meaghan Murtagh, said she is hopeful the new model will be positively received by students.

"Wait times are always driven by rumor," Murtagh said. "I want people to take advantage of the changes. Miami needs to raise awareness of the resources we now have."

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Murtagh said SCS now employs a therapist that speaks Mandarin to better serve the international student population.

Neither Ward nor Traficant expects students to experience financial hardship due to the change.

"If anything, healthcare prices in general have gone up and these perceived changes may be due to a student's insurance coverage rather than due to any change Miami made," Ward said.

Ward said SCS is looking forward to operating under the new model.

"I'm really excited about the shift because it will ultimately give students more support, and that's what we're all about," Ward said.