NewYork-Presbyterian Appoints One of Nation's First Psychiatric Hospitalists to Address Mental Health Needs of General Inpatients

Dr. Anne Skomorowsky Named as the Barbara Jonas Psychiatric Hospitalist; Position Honors NewYork-Presbyterian President and CEO Dr. Herbert Pardes, and Is Named for Former Psychotherapist and Mental Health Advocate

Apr 28, 2010


NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital has created one of the nation's first hospitalist positions dedicated to providing mental health care for inpatients admitted for medical and surgical conditions. The position is named for Barbara Jonas, a longtime mental health advocate, former practicing psychotherapist, and supporter of arts and education. Mrs. Jonas, with her husband, Donald, gave $500,000 to honor Hospital President and CEO Dr. Herbert Pardes for his longstanding commitment to addressing mental health and behavioral issues in medicine.

Patients receiving treatment in a hospital for a medical illness frequently also have psychiatric disorders or acute behavioral problems. In many hospitals, these mental health needs go unattended. This can complicate care, worsening response to treatment, lengthening hospital stay and affecting recovery.

The new position builds on NewYork-Presbyterian's growing use of hospitalists — medical professionals whose primary focus is caring for inpatients with complex conditions and establishing continuity of care among specialists and patients' primary care physicians. Research has shown that hospitalists can improve quality of care and patient satisfaction and reduce length of stays.

Dr. Anne Skomorowsky, a psychiatrist with specialized training in working with hospital inpatients, has been selected as the Barbara Jonas Psychiatric Hospitalist. In this role, she will provide mental health care for inpatients admitted for a non-psychiatric condition at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, and will facilitate treatment by social workers or psychiatrists as needed.

"Roughly 40 percent of inpatients admitted for a non-psychiatric condition have mental health issues, such as depression linked to heart disease, and adding a dedicated psychiatric hospitalist to our already successful program will help further ensure that we can appropriately address all patient needs," says Dr. Pardes. "Barbara Jonas has long been an important voice on mental health care and we are grateful for her and Donald's vision and support, which allowed us to bring the uniquely qualified Dr. Skomorowsky to this role."

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and psychiatrist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, notes the value of psychiatric hospitalists: "A skilled clinician providing these services in a hospital-based setting represents a critically important model of care that it behooves major academic medical centers to adopt. The foresight and generosity of Barbara and Donald Jonas enhance our capacity to provide such services."

Board certified in psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine, Dr. Skomorowsky has served as a psychiatrist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center since 2004, and from 1997 to 1999. In this role, she consults with the Hospital's Consult-Liaison Service and Infectious Disease Clinic and supervises psychiatric residents. Previously she consulted with the Hospital's heart transplant team and the Homebound Elderly Program. Dr. Skomorowsky also created a liaison program between the medical and psychiatric emergency programs. From 1998 to 2008, she served as a psychiatrist at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital, where she was a consulting psychiatrist and supervised a psychiatric resident at the Hospital's Crime Victims Treatment Center. An assistant professor in psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Dr. Skomorowsky received her medical degree, alpha omega alpha, at SUNY Stony Brook School of Medicine, and completed an internship at St. Vincent's Hospital in New York and a psychiatric residency at New York State Psychiatric Institute.

"No matter what reason a patient is in the hospital, mental health issues can impede recovery and my first priority is listening to patients and getting them the help they need," says Dr. Skomorowsky. "It's enormously exciting that Dr. Pardes and Barbara Jonas recognize the impact that this position can make."

Currently a chair of the Advisory Board for the Jonas Center for Nursing Excellence, Barbara Jonas has served in the mental health field in numerous capacities, including as a social worker and practicing psychotherapist. She was vice chairman of the Community Services Board of the New York City Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Alcoholism Services, served on the Institutional Review Board of New York University Medical Center from 1983 to 2005, and is a member of the Columbia Presbyterian Health Sciences Advisory Council. In 1992, she established the Barbara Jonas Centers for the Study and Treatment of Children at Risk in the psychiatry departments of New York University and Columbia Presbyterian Medical Centers.

"Like Drs. Skomorowsky and Pardes, I have seen firsthand the debilitating effects poor mental health has on physical health, and Donald and I commend NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for its foresight in expanding its remarkable hospitalist program to address the mental health of all patients under its care," says Barbara Jonas. "We hope that other medical institutions consider adopting this model so that it becomes standard practice and benefits patients nationwide."

Dr. Herbert Pardes

Dr. Herbert Pardes is President and Chief Executive Officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Healthcare System, and is nationally recognized for his broad expertise in education, research, clinical care, mental health and health policy. Prior to joining the Hospital in 1999, Dr. Pardes served as Vice President for Health Sciences at Columbia University and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He served as Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and U.S. Assistant Surgeon General during the Carter and Reagan administrations, and was President of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Pardes has been appointed to serve on health policy commissions by Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, including the Presidential Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Healthcare Industry, and the Commission on Systemic Interoperability. He is the former Chairman of the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges and the New York Association of Medical Schools. Dr. Pardes is an elected member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and earned the Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine. In 2009, the New York State Office of Mental Health named the main building of its New York State Psychiatric Institute in his honor.

For more information, patients may call 866-NYP-NEWS.

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital

NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, based in New York City, is the nation's largest not-for-profit, non-sectarian hospital, with 2,353 beds. The Hospital has more than 1 million inpatient and outpatient visits in a year, including more than 220,000 visits to its emergency departments — more than any other area hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine at five major centers: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division. One of the largest and most comprehensive health care institutions in the world, the Hospital is committed to excellence in patient care, research, education and community service. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. The Hospital has academic affiliations with two of the nation's leading medical colleges: Weill Cornell Medical College and Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.

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Belinda Mager 212-305-5587