3. Salud y bienestar


During the COVID-19 pandemic, through an ongoing international collaboration between Northwell Health and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), a telepsychiatry program emerged in response to urgent mental health needs identified through rural health centers in Ecuador. Serving districts D1708 and D1709 of the Metropolitan District of Quito, the program supports neglected and underprivileged populations through integrated virtual mental health services for financially vulnerable individuals. Using telemedicine to deliver mental health services is an integral and innovative mechanism to improve access and reduce stigma. Average local income is less than $3 USD per day, and this program has expanded access for individuals who were not previously able to access mental health services. At no cost to the individual patient, the intervention includes graduate medical students from USFQ, psychiatry residents from Northwell Health, and a psychologist from each health center. The telepsych team collaborates to identify, refer and provide psychiatric consultation for patients. The telepsych program, instituted in January 2021 has been providing consultations for at least four patients once a week using the internet to expand equity and access to mental health services. The program comprises four main strategies: the identification and screening of patients that require a psychiatric evaluation by the health center psychologists; initial contact with patients for consent, coordination, and explanation of the program by the graduate medical students from USFQ; telepsychiatric consultation performed by the psychiatry residents from Northwell Health; and lastly the creation of an ongoing treatment plan and medication referral (if required) with the local health center in collaboration with graduate medical students from USFQ and the psychologist of the health center. Each task is carried out by a particular team member, adhering to a treatment