Partnership Launches New Mental Health Program: EpiCenter

LSU Health Shreveport (LSUHS) and Volunteers of America North Louisiana
(VOANLA) have partnered together to create a mental health program, EpiCenter. EpiCenter
provides assessment and treatment for youth and adults who have recently begun experiencing
psychosis. The new program is operated by VOANLA’s behavioral health division and supported
by LSU Health Shreveport’s Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine Department.

Psychosis is a condition that affects the mind and causes a loss of contact with reality. Individuals experiencing psychosis may have trouble understanding what is real or not real. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies estimate that between 15 and 100 people out of 100,000 develop psychosis each year, and psychosis primarily begins in early adulthood, although the condition can have an earlier onset for some individuals.

EpiCenter’s treatment team consists of LSUHS psychiatry and behavioral medicine physicians
and VOANLA behavioral health clinicians and counselors. The team utilizes evidence-based
models for early intervention and first-episode psychosis treatment, including services such as
psychotherapy, psychiatric medication management/primary care, individual, group and family
education, case management, and supported employment and education. The EpiCenter also aims to address the unique needs and individual preferences of each client to enhance the outcome of treatment, providing services in the community and home. The multi-disciplinary team works with patients and their families to determine goals and navigate the path towards long lasting recovery and wellness.

”EpiCenter is the first and only center in northwest Louisiana that aims to bring awareness and
care to individuals experiencing their first psychotic episode,” said Carolyn Hammond, president
and CEO, VOANLA. “This partnership, along with our existing behavioral health programs, allows
us to provide a full continuum of services to those in need.”

VOANLA behavioral health clinicians, counselors and other staff oversee patient case
management, therapy and other support services while LSUHS physicians provide medication
management and other clinical psychiatric care.

“Providing treatment at the first sign of psychosis allows patients to achieve the best outcome. I
am so grateful to LSU Health Shreveport, VOANLA and the Louisiana Department of Health Office of Behavioral Health for creating this opportunity for us to serve patients in north Louisiana” shared Dr. Pamela McPherson, Vice Chair Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, LSU Health Shreveport.

Patients may be eligible to participate in the EpiCenter program if they have been experiencing
psychosis for less than 3 years, have received a diagnosis of schizophrenia or other psychotic
disorder and are willing to be evaluated and treated by healthcare professionals.

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