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Newswest 9 | Midland, Texas | newswest9.com

TTU Health Science Center making great strides in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry fellow program

The Midland Development Corporation (MDC) donated $8.4 million to launch the program here in West Texas.

MIDLAND, Texas — Back in July of 2018, MDC started funding an 8 year grant that supports the Texas Tech University Health Science Center's psychiatry fellowship program, starting with just one fellow. 

But now, with 3 fellows and because of the program's establishment, it's director said it's attracting patients from outside West Texas for treatment. 

It's amazing what some money and community willpower can do.

$8.4 million to be specific.

If it weren't for this money, it wouldn't be possible.

Because the State of Texas only provides funding for adult psychiatric programs.

Texas Tech's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry program is the only approved training fellowship program of its kind in West Texas, and now the once deprived child psychiatric community is pushing full steam ahead.

"Lubbock for example, if you had a child and if you have a child who wants to see someone, [for] a psychiatrist in Lubbock the waiting time could easily be six months to a year. Because of our increased manpower, we have reduced that to less than a week," Dr. Bobby Jain, Program Director, said.

It reaches outlying communities too, like Big Spring.

"MDC has been a wonderful program, especially for this Midland area where there's a huge need for child and adolescent psychiatrists like us," said Child and Adult Psychiatry Fellow Dr. Priya Kodi.

These mental health authorities say what they need here in the Permian Basin is greater than they've seen elsewhere because of its unique location and circumstances.

"We see a lot of divorced parents and also struggling parents and also because it's near the Mexican border, we see a lot of that patient population too, kids mainly," Dr. Kodi said.

Making their work that much more rewarding when they see progress.

These fellows are also serving kids in juvenile detention, the foster care system, and our school districts.

"We have forecasted that we will see 10,000 visits a year. Just to give you an example of how busy we have been. We have accomplished 9,000 patients plus by June, July this year and that's even with the COVID limitations and using Zoom," Dr. Jain said.

As the population increases in the Basin, there will be an even greater need for more child and adolescent psychiatrists.