Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Helping and healing, a year in

St. Luke’s Mental Health Clinic celebrates first anniversary

Express Staff Writer

From left, Natalie Perez, Gay Miremont, Dr. Timothy Stoddard, Erin Pfaeffle and Elaine Durkheimer are the staff of the St. Luke’s Mental Health Services division. Photo by Willy Cook

    Nearly 54,000 adults and 18,000 children live with serious mental illnesses in the state of Idaho, according to 2010 statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
    Until Oct. 13, 2013, Wood River Valley residents with mental-health issues often drove to Twin Falls or Boise to seek treatment, if they sought any at all.
    The St. Luke’s Clinic in Hailey opened a mental-health division a year ago, following a two-year task force on community mental-health needs.
    “We were at that time lacking significantly in psychiatry and lacking significantly in accessible and affordable psychiatric services,” said Erin Pfaeffle, St. Luke’s manager of community health services and co-chair of the task force.
    St. Luke’s agreed to build an outpatient mental health clinic, Pfaeffle said, and it was made possible by significant philanthropic support. Pfaeffle helped recruit psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Stoddard, who moved to the valley from Coeur d’Alene, and licensed clinical social worker Gay Miremont. St. Luke’s hired registered nurse Elaine Durkheimer in May of this year, to facilitate a connection between patients’ physical and mental-health needs. The clinic taps into the St. Luke’s electronic patient database, Pfaeffle said, to ensure medicine is “safely reconciled.”
    They primarily serve adolescents over 15, Pfaeffle said, and adults. Miremont provides therapy and Stoddard focuses on medication management, but “has great skill in therapy,” Pfaeffle said.
    Stoddard alone has seen over 340 patients in the past year, an “incredible number for a clinic starting off,” he said.
    “We still have new patients every week,” Miremont said.
    While the majority of the patients are valley residents, there are people coming in from farther locations such as Challis, Salmon, Stanley and Carey. Facilitating shorter commutes for mental-health services creates a better likelihood that people will come regularly, Stoddard said, considering that many of these patients previously had to drive farther for help.
    “It is hard enough to seek treatment even when it is available,” he said. “When you add in that extra component of an appointment practically taking all day … that would cause a lot of people to [think that] it’s too big of a hurdle.”
    A year in, the organization has made inroads and is in a position to evaluate future goals. Pfaeffle said child psychiatry patients still generally have to travel for care, and the clinic would like to offer tele-psychiatry (video conferencing) options to make treatment easier for families. The clinic has a number of Hispanic patients and Stoddard is able to facilitate their treatment with his Spanish language skills—however, he said they need to continue reaching out and bridging cultural and linguistic barriers with that community.
    “It’s been really an asset because it’s something they wouldn’t feel comfortable addressing with someone, trying to talk about their problems or emotional issues,” Durkheimer said.  
    With the sheer number of patients coming in, the clinic could need more psychiatric experts in coming years, Pfaeffle said. In the meantime, the staff is challenged and fulfilled.
    “I feel really good about what we’ve been able to accomplish in this year,” Stoddard said. “I know personally, I’m happy to be here a year later.”
    To contact the clinic, call 727-8970.    
Amy Busek:

About Comments

Comments with content that seeks to incite or inflame may be removed.

Comments that are in ALL CAPS may be removed.

Comments that are off-topic or that include profanity or personal attacks, libelous or other inappropriate material may be removed from the site. Entries that are unsigned or contain signatures by someone other than the actual author may be removed. We will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or any other policies governing this site. Use of this system denotes full acceptance of these conditions. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions. You are fully responsible for the content that you post.

The comments below are from the readers of and in no way represent the views of Express Publishing, Inc.

You may flag individual comments. You may also report an inappropriate or offensive comment by clicking here.

Flagging Comments: Flagging a comment tells a site administrator that a comment is inappropriate. You can find the flag option by pointing the mouse over the comment and clicking the 'Flag' link.

Flagging a comment is only counted once per person, and you won't need to do it multiple times.

Proper Flagging Guidelines: Every site has a different commenting policy - be sure to review the policy for this site before flagging comments. In general these types of comments should be flagged:

  • Spam
  • Ones violating this site's commenting policy
  • Clearly unrelated
  • Personal attacks on others
Comments should not be flagged for:
  • Disagreeing with the content
  • Being in a dispute with the commenter

Popular Comment Threads

 Local Weather 
Search archives:

Copyright © 2020 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.