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TDMHSAS Continues Leadership In Addressing Emergency Psychiatric Needs Through New Medical Director Position

Long-time emergency room physician joins staff to lead efforts
Wednesday, September 11, 2019 | 11:48am

NASHVILLE, Tenn.— The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS) is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. Sanford Herman as the department’s medical director for community behavioral health.  Dr. Herman has 35 years of experience as an emergency department physician and is a past president of the Tennessee College of Emergency Physicians.

In this new role, Dr. Herman will work with hospitals across the state and train emergency department physicians on techniques for stabilizing patients experiencing a psychiatric crisis with a goal of ensuring that patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.  Governor Bill Lee and the Tennessee General Assembly included new funding for the position in the department’s FY20 budget.

“Dr. Herman enriches our team with decades of experience in emergency medicine.  His proven ability to communicate with emergency department physicians is going to produce positive outcomes for Tennesseans experiencing psychiatric emergencies and for our partner hospitals across this state,” said TDMHSAS Commissioner Marie Williams, LCSW.

The creation of the role of medical director for community behavioral health is a product of the department’s collaborative work with the Tennessee Hospital Association (THA) and the Tennessee College of Emergency Physicians (TCEP).  Starting in 2016, the partners formed a workgroup to address the length of time that psychiatric emergency patients waited in hospital emergency departments before securing placement at inpatient psychiatric hospitals.  This workgroup produced a comprehensive evaluation of the current landscape as well as protocols for emergency department physicians to start psychiatric treatment and refinements to the state’s Certificate of Need process for involuntary commitment.

 “Tennessee is truly a leader in the nation when it comes to providing emergency department care for adults and children experiencing mental health emergencies,” said Sanford Herman, MD, MS, FACEP.  “I am excited to build on the work of my colleagues and further refine the methods our state’s emergency physicians employ to compassionately care for people at a very vulnerable time.”