For the first time in many years, Coos County has a full-time child psychiatrist ready to help children.
The Waterfall Community Health Center announced last week that Dr. Rainy Davies has joined the practice and will be working full time at the Waterfall Clinic in Coos Bay.
Bringing Davies on board gives the county its only full-time child psychiatrist. Psychiatrists have been available in a limited fashion before, but having Davies on site, in person every day is a big step.
“She’s certainly not the only child psychiatrist in the county, but the one that’s most accessible,” said Lance Nelson, a therapist and program manager for the Waterfall. “It’s been a long time coming to have Dr. Davies here.”
Nelson said he approached the board of the Waterfall Community Health Center with some improvements he hoped to make. Almost as an afterthought he added bringing a full-time psychiatrist on board. Much to his surprise, the board gave its approval, and the search for a psychiatrist began. Nelson said getting an onsite child psychiatrist was the “miracle” he was hoping for.
Davies was equally excited about the opportunity to get to Coos County. After serving as a child psychiatrist for eight years, she said she and her family were looking for an opportunity to move to the region.
“I’ve been working for a community health clinic for the last eight years in Grants Pass,” Davies said. “We have a vacation home in Bandon, and we decided we wanted to live here.”
Davies said after researching the work being done by the Waterfall Community Health Center, especially at the Starfish Youth Therapy Center, she knew she had found the right place.
“That’s one the reasons I came here because I really like helping with autism, but I lived in a community that was too small for an autism program,” Davies said.
At the Starfish program, the Waterfall Community Health Center has an inclusive autism program designed to help children up to 18. The program last year and was full before it even began.
While Davies is excited about helping children with autism, she and Nelson say it will only be about 10 percent of her work. With a growing number of children struggling with issues like depression and anxiety, Davies will also work with children who need a lift.
As a psychiatrist, Davies said her primary job will be prescribing medication to go with the therapy services offered at the Waterfall Clinic.
“I can help mainly with medications, but also with referrals,” she said. “If someone needs to see a neurologist, I can help with that. Especially in teens, where they need to socialize, I’ve seen more depression coming up and substance abuse that comes with it.”
Having Davies in Coos County will also benefit in other ways. Nelson said pediatricians actually prescribe more psychiatric drugs in Coos County than psychiatrists do. Having a doctor close by to consult with will put the medical doctors at ease, Nelson said.
“There’s no one more excited about Dr. Davies coming that the pediatric departments in Coos County,” Nelson said. “The vast majority of psychiatric meds prescribed in Coos County are from pediatricians.”
Nelson said the Waterfall Community Health Center has been fortunate to be able to expand and add more services in recent times. He credits the nonprofit company’s board as well as a good relationship with Advanced Health, the insurance carrier that works with OHP in Coos and Curry counties.
“They have told us if you can make this happen, we will support you and we will make sure the reimbursement is fair,” Nelson said. “Waterfall has always put our programs that meet the needs of the community first and later on we will figure out how to pay for it.”
Davies joined Waterfall late in August, but she has spent the last few weeks undergoing required training and getting used to the company’s system. She expects to see her first patients this week, with a waiting list of more than 30 patients waiting to see the doctor.
“I’m trying to read and educate myself, but I like patients,” Davies said. “I’d like to start that.”
Davies said she views herself as part of the Waterfall team, saying for patients to do well, having access to medication and therapy are both important keys.
“My expectation is if Dr. Davies is going to be prescribing, we’re going to expect them to be with a therapist somewhere,” Nelson said. “We want someone who’s the eyes and ears for Dr. Davies.”
To make an appointment or for more information, call the Waterfall Community Health Center at 541-756-6232 or visit www.wfall.org.
The services at Waterfall are open to anyone, regardless of ability to pay.
“We will never turn anyone away for inability to pay,” Nelson said. “We have a sliding scale. We have a prompt payment option. We have to stay true to the Waterfall mission.”