SHACS and GRMC to combine services for improved care


Mental Health Changes

Sam Han

On Jan. 29, Grinnell College’s Student Health and Counseling Services (SHACS) sent a college memo detailing changes in the services available to students. With the departure of two counselors and an inability to provide necessary care, the department decided to rework its model as part of an ongoing effort to re-evaluate health services offered at the College in the face of dissatisfaction of students over recent years.   

The memo highlighted a few changes. The College will hire two Grinnell Regional Medical Center (GRMC) counselors to work at SHACS as well as a new outside hire.  They are also invested in working with a University of Iowa Doctoral student, who will work part time to treat students.   

“We are working to strengthen our collaboration with the University of Iowa’s doctoral program with the hopes of expanding this program, in addition to hiring and increasing our own providers in house,” wrote Deborah Shill, Director of SHACS in an email to The S&B. 

Shill also detailed specific administrative changes that will help keep the new system running smoothly. 

“We now have our team in place,” she wrote.  “I … will oversee all operations for both the health and mental health services here at SHACS.  In addition, Beth Gallegos, Assistant Director of SHACS, will help to coordinate and oversee the mental health services in collaboration with [me]. We also have a new Medical Director who has taken over for Dr. Jerome Wehr who retired at the end of the fall term.  Dr. Jeffrey Knobloch is our new Medical Director effective Jan. 1.” 

Along with the new changes, Andrea Connor, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, insisted that the College will continue searching for more permanent solutions. 

“We will be posting and searching for a full-time counselor to be hired as a Grinnell College employee,” she wrote in an email to The S&B. 

SHACS is also hoping to improve in its tele-psychiatry program, to provide students with assistance in medication management. In the past, these services have been provided through the GRMC by nurse practitioner, Megan Berryhill, who recently retired from her position. SHACS plans to continue this practice but hopes to begin a program with these services on campus.   

Andrea Conner, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, also clarified the change.

“Berryhill provided prescribing services off campus at GRMC,” wrote Andrea Connor, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, in an email to The S&B. “We hope to bring a tele-psychiatry program to SHACS which would mean on-site prescriber services free of charge to students. This would be an added resource for students in need of prescription medication management for mental health needs, in addition to the off-campus prescribers.”

Overall, staff is confident that the new changes will help increase access to and improve the quality of mental health care available to students. 

“With increased providers, we will be able to provide more services both within SHACS and out on campus to include more outreach and trainings,” wrote Shill.