Dr. Albert Wertz is one of the providers opening our new clinic in Seattle. Here, he is being interviewed about his background and about Mindful Health Solutions’ new mental health services in Seattle as well as the state of Washington.
MHS: Tell us a little about your background, Dr. Wertz.
Dr. Wertz: I’m a board-certified psychiatrist, and I’ve been working full-time since I was 15 years old. I’ve been married since I was 18, and currently have kids in high school and college. I have psychiatric experience that ranges from inner-city San Antonio to rural Washington here in Wenatchee. I’m also experienced in variable settings such as inpatient, outpatient, and hospital ER console work. So, I’m pretty well-rounded.
MHS: Could you tell us what drew you to Mindful Health Solutions?
Dr. Wertz: I wanted to offer more to my patients just beyond traditional medication management options. I’ve always been interested in TMS. My first exposure to it when I was in residency. I visited a couple of private practices, and I’m excited about expanding treatment options into new and upcoming modalities like the esketamine options and psilocybin and new research coming up on the horizon.
MHS: What interests you about these alternative treatment options?
Dr. Wertz: Well, medication hits the whole body, and it can have a lot of side effects. TMS is targeted at the brain so there is less interaction with the rest of the body, and it’s a little bit more fast-acting. Medication can take a while and a lot of people who go through clinical trials end up becoming treatment-resistant. Having different options in your tool bag can definitely give people hope and get them towards remission instead of just treatment, you know?
MHS: Absolutely. Switching gears a little bit, what’s your relationship with Seattle?
Dr. Wertz: I travel to Seattle quite frequently. It’s where I get all my ethnic food because I don’t have access to that in Wenatchee. But I live in Wenatchee, Washington. I’ve been here for about five years. I came here when I graduated from residency, and my dad and my grandparents had lived in the Pacific Northwest for a while as well. When I visited the Pacific Northwest during Medical School and did rotations at the psychiatric center in Corvallis Oregon, I just fell in love. We were here during October and the fall colors, the leaves falling, just showed the beauty of the forestry. Compared to where I was raised in West Texas, everything is just amazing here. So we came up and we’ve been here ever since.
MHS: That’s lovely. What are you excited about with Mindful Health Solutions opening our new clinic in Seattle?
Dr. Wertz: Improving remission attainability is a great option for treatment-resistant depression. We do currently have TMS and ECT options within Seattle, but we don’t have enough. Patients have a lot of issues with the limited care options available. Washington state is one of the lowest access-to-care states in all of the United States. The ability to increase access and provide more mental health services in Seattle is great.
MHS: What do you think about telepsychiatry, and what impact more mental health services in Seattle and Washington will have?
Dr. Wertz: With the business model that we have (the combination of in-clinic and telehealth options) allows us to see patients throughout the state as long as they have internet access and a confidential and safe area to have a meaningful conversation during their appointment. Whether it’s at home, at work, in their car, or anywhere in the state with internet access, we can do it. And if they want to come to the clinic and see us in person, they have that option as well with Mindful Health Solutions.
MHS: That’s one differentiator for us. We’re not just telehealth. That’s where a lot of companies differ because they don’t have that in-person option at all. Being able to offer that is a huge benefit for us and for our patients.
Dr. Wertz: It helps foster better relationships with our clients. If they can’t meet us in person, we can meet virtually. Having some visits virtual and some visits in person is fantastic.
MHS: What’s your style when working with patients?
I use a very patient-centered approach to treatment, often combining psychotherapy and medication management. Medicine isn’t the end-all-be-all for treatment for patients. I want to use the least amount of medication necessary to achieve a meaningful change in their life because medicines do have side effects. We can do a combination where we work on lifestyle changes and coping skills on top of other treatments. Frequent follow-up is commonly associated with those tactics and we have the ability to work patients into our schedules regularly. If they need to be seen weekly, we can do that. If they could be seen every couple of weeks or work them further out to monthly or just a maintenance follow-up, we have that ability as well.
MHS: Any lasting or parting thoughts on what you want Seattleites are people from Washington to know about mental health or Mindful Health Solutions?
Dr. Wertz: Don’t accept that depression is your status quo or that your current access to treatment is all there is. Definitely give us a try. Give us a chance to make a meaningful contribution in your life. We have options like TMS and esketamine, and we are looking at further expansion of our treatment options too. Just don’t accept that you’ve reached a plateau. Let us see if we can break that and achieve remission. Never give up.
MHS: Thank you so much for your time today, Dr. Wertz. We really appreciate speaking with you and we’re really excited about offering more mental health services in Seattle and Washington.
The Seattle clinic is currently taking telepsychiatry patients. With their doors scheduled to open on October 1, 2022, you can call 844-867-8444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment in advance. And if you aren’t in Washington but have friends or family who are, please share this news with them! We hope to make a significant impact by offering more mental health services in Seattle and Washingoton as a whole.