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Now there's more hope for people needing mental health treatment, thanks to telepsychiatry.

"See patients, talk to them and prescribe medications as needed,” says Dr. Sumana Gadde, child and adolescent psychiatrist at Westbrook Health Services in Parkersburg.

It offers ease and convenience for both patients and doctors.

"Definitely see kids five days a week here, but on alternate Fridays is when I’m able to do telepsychiatry and I am able to do it here right from my office,” Gadde says.

It's currently one of the most effective ways to increase access to psychiatric care for those living in underserved areas.

"Younger generations tend to be more adept to Skype and all types of social media,” says Rob Dudley, administrative director at Westbrook’s Jackson County office.

Those generational differences are quickly apparent.

"They don't have a lot of trouble adapting to their doctor being on a TV in a remote, different area of West Virginia,” he says.

On the other end is usually a nurse, who's also involved.

"Able to keep a check on the kid and gather more information as far as their vital signs and other physical symptoms go,” Gadde says.

It may take time for the older generation to warm up to this alternative tool.

"But we found that with time they all get comfortable with it,” Dudley says. “The doctor and the patient can, for the most part, create a good rapport and working relationship."

Westbrook provides telemedicine in all the rural counties it serves: Pleasants, Roane and Jackson. Call 304-485-1721 for more information.

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