VC Resident McColly Fills Mental Health Void In Area
September 30, 2020
Valley County resident Kristin McColly is bringing much needed services to the area in the midst of the global pandemic that is making everyone experience anxiety and stress to some level. Through her practice, Montana Hope, she is accepting patients and is offering a number of specialized mental health services. She recently graduated with her post-master's certificate in psychiatric mental health nursing from Frontier Nursing University after completing the program in March. She was also honored at her Sept. 26 virtual graduation ceremony with the PMHNP Student Leadership Award, which is awarded for each speciality graduating class.
McColly isn't new to the medical field as she has been working in northeast Montana as a family nurse practitioner since 2007. Her journey in the medical field started after graduating valedictorian from Saco Schools and then attended MSU-Bozeman to achieve her bachelors of nursing degree. After working as a floor nurse at St. Vincent in Billings for a couple of years, she moved back to the area to raise her family in Hinsdale. As a result of a back injury at a young age and a couple of surgeries, McColly couldn't do the physical labor of nursing and decided to go back to school, receiving her masters in family nursing to become a family nurse practitioner in 2007.
McColly is keeping the tradition alive in her family in helping others as her mom was a nurse and dedicated herself to medicine, nursing and caring for others. "I said I would never be a nurse when I was going through my nursing degree and doing inpatient psychiatry, I said, I'm never doing psychiatry. Never say never. I have a passion for the people who struggle with it [mental health]," McColly said.
Her journey into assisting others with their mental health started after seeing patients at the jail. "A jail doesn't have as heavy of a psychiatric problem as like prisons, but largely there's a lot of psychiatric disorders, certainly substance use disorders," explained McColly. "I was able to see what the medicines I was comfortable with, how they really are so effective and then kind of dig deep into the bag, into uncomfortable zone, and know that there's more tools available."
She saw when a referral was needed for a psychiatric speciality, the closest providers were in Williston or Havre, but both of those offices have closed to outside of the area referrals. "The people locally have had to get specialists through Billings or Minot or Great Falls and/or the Mental Health Office and they do have some specialists coming up periodically but their schedules are just packed and they don't have a lot of time for patients. It's just the process that is broken," explained McColly.
After seeing the broken process first hand, she wanted to find a solution for those in the area who need mental health assistance. "It's really such a needed service. It [mental health] touches everybody in one way or another. There is a mental health walk coming up so there is some awareness but the services are just lacking," she stated.
McColly is bridging that gap by offering specialist services including psychiatric evaluation, psychopharmacology, genetic testing, in order to give insight into any underlying mental conditions as well as the specific metabolism for medications in order to make highly informed medication decisions, as well as addictions treatment. She is currently seeing new patients through telehealth either by secure face time or through secure video conferences utilizing Zoom.
"In my opinion, the insurances have really accepted and opened up the restrictions with telehealth.....That's one of the really good things that's come from COVID, we've been forced to look at how we've been doing things and our technology has expanded our capacities in many, many ways," stated McColly.
During this unprecedented time, it's important to check on your loved ones utilizing other means than face-to-face. McColly advises if you are used to seeing someone on social media or through text or hearing from them, and you quit hearing from them, it's a sign the person is starting to withdraw. She also advised you can see a lot from a person's face, if they aren't smiling, are flat, and their tone of voice is sad, that's a sign someone is struggling. She also mentioned another sign is increase of alcohol and/or drug use.
McColly accepts most major medical insurances and is currently accepting self-referrals, however Medicaid patients do need to obtain permission or a referral from their primary care provider. Appointments can be requested through McColly's website at http://www.montana-hope.com/make-an-appointment.