Even the best behavioral healthcare is only as effective as the patient’s ability to engage in it. Physical health conditions are often the gating factors preventing people from initiating, completing, and fully benefiting from substance use and mental health treatment. General medical care can be crucial to achieving initial stability, safely detoxifying, managing underlying and emergent conditions, and supporting recovery goals by enhancing executive function, outlook, and feelings of well-being.
Attending physician, Dr. Karen Flannery, expands Orenda’s treatment capabilities.
Dr. Karen Flannery, board-certified in addiction and internal medicine, is a hospitalist with extensive experience treating patients in private practice, leading hospital systems, and premier behavioral healthcare programs. Flannery’s expertise in treating acute, chronic conditions that co-occur with substance use disorders is informed by two decades of direct patient care. Flannery’s experiences, commitment to highly personalized care, and holistic approaches align with Orenda’s treatment philosophy.
“I consider myself a lifelong learner. I find that while people are much more alike than they are different, the nuances of the human condition and the effects of varying environmental factors are incredibly diverse. As a doctor, remaining objective and open ensures that I am attuned to my patient’s prognosis and do not overlook important clues to their changing needs.”
Listening is one of the most important things we, as medical professionals, can do for our patients.Dr. Karen Flannery
Flannery strives to expand her skillset and finds constant inspiration from patients and colleagues. She regularly recommends non-medical therapies, including mindfulness, yoga, and acupuncture, to support recovery and counter the stress of the “fear-based-living” prevalent in today’s society. Flannery is also adept at working with high-functioning and highly successful patients who find it difficult to accept the idea that their behavioral health conditions are problematic or beyond their personal ability to control. Flannery is as compassionate as she is experienced. She is as likely to be lauded for deep technical proficiency and specialized skills as for a remarkable bedside manner and accessibility that comfort patients, families, and colleagues.
At Orenda, Flannery will be involved in all patient care stages, from admission to detoxification to discharge planning. Integrating the skills of an attending physician will allow Orenda to treat patients with more advanced conditions, broaden options for treating underlying conditions, reduce polypharmacy, and make more informed ongoing treatment recommendations. Besides her work with Orenda, Flannery operates a private concierge practice and consults with other leading behavioral healthcare providers.
Together, Future’s Medical Director, Dr. Gloria Dunkin, and Dr. Flannery, these experienced caregivers will oversee the coordinated medical care of Orenda patients. Dunkin, an addiction psychiatrist, has worked with Flannery and appreciates her experience. “Doctors who specialize in addiction medicine develop an innate sense for which interventions are the most likely to support the patient’s overall health goals, which ones to avoid, and when compassionate listening and sound advice is the best medicine.”
Dr. Flannery’s ability to treat complex medical conditions using Orenda’s on-campus medical facilities or nearby hospitals means the program can admit patients it would previously need to refer to higher levels of care. The ability to care for more acute cases can significantly increase patients’ chances of completing treatment and reduces stress for patients and families. It is not uncommon for patients who pass a telephone admissions screening to show up for treatment with acute medical conditions requiring attention. Without careful coordination, diverting people from behavioral healthcare to a hospital setting can significantly delay or prevent people from receiving treatment for their substance use disorder.
Orenda Outreach Professional, Kim Koslow, is familiar with the risks of delaying treatment, even when that delay is needed to address urgent medical conditions. “It takes a lot for a sick and suffering person to even be willing to go to treatment. When they do, it is our commitment to make sure they get the help they need. We must seize that moment of grace,” says Koslow. “A delay in starting treatment could literally result in death. When we have to refer a newly arrived patient for medical care due to a previously unknown medical condition, it creates the possibility that they change their mind about starting treatment.” Patients are not the only ones surprised to learn that they need medical care before being admitted to their treatment program of choice. “Family members can feel confused and scared to learn that we were unable to admit their loved one and had to send them to a local hospital or specialty care provider. Having an experienced internist who can treat more conditions here or in a local hospital closes that gap. Dr. Flannery allows us to reduce the number of times we need to delay treatment under our care. This capability can save lives and improve outcomes.”
The value of receiving personalized medical attention will benefit Orenda patients during and after their stay. The flexibility of Orenda treatment plans gives Flannery the time needed to work closely with patients, evaluate their needs, and offer holistic treatment that enhances the overall quality of life. Flannery finds that many patients, especially those with a long history of benzodiazepine, sedative, and alcohol use, need help to restore sleep hygiene. Others struggle with polypharmacy, having been prescribed a litany of medications by different prescribers over the years. A desire to have the time and freedom to address multiple areas of patient health is what led Flannery to become a concierge doctor.
“Orenda is designed to deliver an especially high level of carefully coordinated personalized care. Providing patients with access to a skilled and thoughtful attending physician like Dr. Flannery offers innumerable benefits. We can provide more integrated medicine to patients on-campus, better prepare them for ongoing care after receiving treatment, and more closely coordinate our care with the patient’s team of doctors and specialists,” says Futures Recovery Healthcare Chief Operating Officer, Deja Gilbert. “It is a privilege to work with Dr. Flannery. She is a natural fit for Orenda, and every patient and team member will benefit from her experience and partnership.”