Innovative Partnership Between a Rural Mental Health Center and Community Pharmacy: Integration of a Mental Health Pharmacist

  • ShuYing Ng Northern Pines Mental Health Center
  • Robert Buckner Jones Northern Pines Mental Health Center
  • Laura Schwartzwald GuidePoint Pharmacy
  • Meena Murugappan University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy
  • Amy Pittenger University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy
  • Kevin Edwards Northern Pines Mental Health Center
  • Randall Seifert University of Minnesota, College of Pharmacy
Keywords: rural mental health, psychiatric pharmacy, clinical pharmacist services, Comprehensive Medication Management, Assertive Community Treatment


Purpose: The purpose of this article is to describe how an innovative partnership between a rural community mental health center, community independent pharmacy and College of Pharmacy and integration of a mental health pharmacist lead to identification of medication therapy problems (MTP’s) and interprofessional team partnerships with center mental health professionals.

Methods: A contractual arrangement was initiated between Northern Pines Mental Health Center (NPMHC), GuidePoint Pharmacy Services GPS) and the University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy (UMN CoP) to place a PGY1 resident at NPMHC.  The resident was assigned to work closely with the Chief Medical Officer and provide initial comprehensive medication management (CMM) services to individuals who were enrolled in Assertive Community Treatment (ACT). A retrospective chart review was conducted to evaluate the impact of services provided. Patient inclusion criteria included ACT enrollees 18 years or older, a diagnosis of SPMI, taking at least one psychotropic medication, and participation in at least one resident-led CMM visit. Additional findings included the relationship between the pharmacist, the psychiatric physician, and other members of the ACT team. Descriptive statistics were used to document the findings.

Findings: N = 30 met the inclusion criteria: 18 males and 12 females, age ranged from 24 - 69 with average of 44 years old. 110 MTPs were identified ranging from no MTPs to 10 MTPs per patient, with a mean of 4 MTPs/patient. There was an uneven distribution of MTPs between psychiatric and medical conditions, with a disproportionately high occurrence of “Needs Additional Drug Therapy” in medical conditions and “Adverse Drug Reaction” in psychiatric conditions. In addition, the services were valued by members on the ACT team.

Conclusion: Rural residents with SPMI in intensive community treatment have complex medication needs that require the training and skills of a clinical pharmacist. Despite the inclusion of a medication list as part of the ACT fidelity standards MTPs may go unrecognized and unresolved without the services of a clinical pharmacist conducting CMM. The pharmacist and psychiatric physician formed a collaborative partnership to address medication issues. We conclude that there is a need for integrating clinical pharmacist services into rural mental health centers.


Article Type: Original Research


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Received 2018-07-02
Accepted 2019-01-22
Published 2019-06-14
Pharmacy Practice & Practice-Based Research