One psychiatrist saw the long waiting lists for mental health appointments and said, “Enough.” Dr. Ora Frankel founded The Couch five years ago and has been helping patients in crisis ever since.
The first call to a mental health expert is typically triggered by a crisis. Unfortunately, that urgent need is often met with a lack of immediate solutions. “There aren’t a lot of urgent cares for anxiety, depression, addiction or any number of other difficult and devastating mental health issues,” says Dr. Ora Frankel, a board-certified psychiatrist and founder of The Couch Mental Healthcare Center near Holiday Manor. “And the wait to get into a psychiatrist in this city—or any—can be several months.” Or at least it used to be.
That was before Dr. Frankel decided to address the growing need for reliable, accessible mental health services with a new kind of practice—a six-day-a-week, full-service psychiatric evaluation and therapy mental healthcare center. “I saw what had happened to my own patients… what they had to go through just to get some help. It’s easier to find a therapist. But if you feel that you or your child need a psychiatrist, you can’t get in. People are out of luck or they get sub-optimal care and they’re sent out the door with a two-day supply of medicine.”
With her twenty years of psychiatric experience, Dr. Frankel set out to create a practice that solved many of the problems she had seen in the mental health care field. “First, I wanted a place where we didn’t keep people waiting,” she says. “I wanted to be able to get them in the same day or the next day and get them tested and help them navigate the hierarchy of treatment. I also don’t want them waiting for refills, waiting for returned calls, waiting for answers.” So she has resolved little issues that can result in inferior care by making her practice user-friendly and organized. “We are very patient-centric,” she says. “We have text reminders for all appointments; we are open from 8:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. so working people can get in to see us. We offer on-line appointment scheduling so you can book at home in the evening. We’re available, respectful and responsive.”
Delivering that kind of patient experience meant staffing up with psychiatric nurses and therapists who can help field questions, get refills and get the right patients to the right help. Dr. Frankel believes it’s all part of a culture where patients’ needs come first. “Patients deserve a respectful atmosphere,” she says. “They deserve a careful evaluation that results in the correct treatment. The treatment might be short-term or it can be long term. Either way, we can help them.”
While all patients begin with a full evaluation, the course of treatment varies from there. Some are at The Couch short term; others develop a more long-term relationship that could involve a team of caregivers from Dr. Frankel to therapists to medication check-ins with nurse practitioners. “We even offer phone appointments in some cases,” she says. “We’re not going to abandon you if you’re traveling and you need us. The philosophy and mindset we have is very unique.”
The services and the atmosphere at The Couch have been met with a flood of patients and national press and Dr. Frankel makes sure that her practice keeps growing to meet the demand. “We just doubled our space and remodeled to add more offices and practitioners,” she says. “The need is there.”
And she is clearly gratified to be meeting it. “A patient once said to me, ‘I think I called 72 offices before I found you and I thank God I got here because I think I would have killed myself.’ That’s the gratitude we receive. The need is so desperate.”
IF YOU GO
The Couch is located at 2327 Lime Kiln Lane. Call (502)414-4557 or go to thecouchimmediatehealthcare.com for more information.