Freeborn County Mental Health Center sees reduced wait times

Published 9:23 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2017

There is a well-known shortage of psychiatrists across the United States, resulting in long wait times and untreated cases. At the Freeborn County Mental Health Center, patient wait times have been reduced after a nurse practitioner was hired in June.

Brian Vold, 39, began at the facility in June. Specializing in managing medications and psychiatric evaluations, Vold commutes from Iowa Tuesdays and Wednesdays and still practices in five Iowa cities: Mason City, Des Moines, Iowa Falls, Britt and Garner.

Mental Health Center Program Coordinator Mark Kossman said three- to four-month wait times for psychiatric appointments prior to Vold’s arrival have decreased to two weeks, resulting in more patients being seen in Freeborn County.

Brian Vold

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“With Brian being here, we are able to serve people closer to where they may live in Freeborn County,” Kossman said.

Vold joins a staff that includes three therapists, two psychiatric providers and four adult health case managers.

“There is a major shortage of psychiatric providers in Minnesota, as well as across the country,” Kossman said. “We feel very fortunate to have Brian with us. … He has helped us expand the scope of services we provide at the Mental Health Center.”

Vold expects to have a full caseload after he is in his position for eight to 12 months, which will result again in a staffing shortage.

To Vold, shortages in mental health practitioners can cause exacerbated systems in individuals,  such as damaging relationships, poor academic performance and legal issues.

“Any of those aspects of your life could be impacted, just as it could be with any other condition,” he said.

The Freeborn County Mental Health Center offers individual therapy services, psychiatric services and case management services. Last year, the facility served 1,000 people, and it has seen a “significant increase” in individual therapy cases and other patients who need services such as medication management and psychiatric evaluations so far this year, Kossman said.

Anyone looking to schedule an appointment at the Mental Health Center can call 507-377-5440.

Vold said he enjoys seeing the mental state of patients improve.

“That’s one of the best parts of my job,” he said. “I mean, I get paid to hear people’s stories, and there’s not many people that can say that, and that’s a wonderful thing. I am very privileged to be in the position that I am at. I get to do something I love, and I get to do it all over Iowa and now Minnesota. It’s a good thing.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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