Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology, St. George Medical Center, Lebanon

Arab World Awards

Hamdan Award for the Best Medical College/Institute or Centre in the Arab World
2009-2010
History and Services:
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology is part of St.George Hospital University Medical Centre, a nonprofit academic medical center, owned by the Orthodox Archdiocese of Beirut and has an academic affiliation with the University of Balamand. Since 1878, Saint George Hospital has been operating as a non-profit community hospital. Today, the hospital has grown up into a total healthcare institution, providing overall in-patient and out-patient services to the  ommunity. Saint George is committed to the challenges of helping to re-build the community in terms of healthcare, education and research.
 
It all began in 1878 when Panoyot Fakhoury, a member of the Orthodox community, donated two rooms in his Gemayze home to be used as a clinic and in-patient facility. To cope with the patient load, a hospital of six rooms was constructed in 1883.Six doctors worked tirelessly, three of whom were American citizens headed by Dr. Cornelius Van Dyke, who later founded the American University of Beirut School of Medicine. In 1913, a 90-bed hospital was constructed. The hospital was confiscated by the French authorities between 1919 and 1923. During this time it was used as a teaching Centre affiliated to the Saint Joseph (French) School of Medicine. In the 1930’s, to cope with the depression, the hospital management planted vegetables, raised cattle and poultry in the plots of adjacent land as a regular food supply for patients.
 
To meet the high demand of caring for a much bigger flow of patients, the hospital once again was expanded. A new 275-bed facility was completed in 1966. This facility was in use until June 2005. Funds for the new hospital were secured by the Church through the sale of land and through generous donations. During the difficult phase of internal conflicts and civil war in the 70s, Saint George Hospital did not close its doors at all. Quite the opposite, there were times when surgery was performed in hallways due to lack of space. Between 1984 and 1987, the struggle to provide quality health care and service continued. During these years three major services became available at the hospital: CT scan, Open Heart, and Quality Assurance.
The end of country’s struggle in 1990 and the subsequent phase of peace brought with it the opportunity to inject new hi-tech services, such as: In-vitro fertilization (IVF), Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), kidney Transplant Unit, Endovascular unit, Osteodensitometry, Molecular Biology Laboratory, Quality Systems for Health Care, ISO 9000 (International Organization for Standardization) certification, Post-Graduate Medical Education (Residency Training Program) with the University of Balamand and Faculty of Medicine in association with the University of Balamand. The stone laid down during the ground-breaking ceremony in February 1998 yielded a new 200-bed hospital in June 2004 which became fully operational in June 2005 (Phase I). A number of new hi-tech equipments were added including Panoramic Dental Machine, Electromyogram (EMG) and Urodynamics.
 
Team:
 
Research at the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology is multidisciplinary and is conducted within a teamwork spirit. The group of researchers includes psychiatrists, psychologists, biostatisticians, epidemiologists, educators, social workers, nurses and lay members trained in structured diagnostic interviewing. The research training is based at the St. George Hospital University Medical Center, Ashrafieh, Beirut. The offices provide trainees with computer services, an electronic library and a print library. The fieldwork in research takes place in various geographical areas of Lebanon, depending on the need of the ongoing projects.
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology members are pioneers in mental health research in Lebanon and the Arab world by promoting research in mental health, increasing public awareness and participating in the improvement of training and educational programs in mental health. In fact, the range of expertise and experience they have amassed among them and over the years is wide and comprehensive enough to place them among the leaders in their field at national, regional and international levels. Mental health experts from the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology are not only experts in research and community interventions, but are veritable providers of state-of –the-art psychiatric and psychological care in their clinics with years of experience treating patients. They are knowledgeable and skilled at transmitting scientific messages to the lay public and at selecting evidence-based effective interventions for large-scale dissemination.
 
Facilities:
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology became a referral Centre for mental healthcare services both nationally and in the Middle East region. In fact, the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology is among the first in the Arab world to move psychiatry out of the asylum into the general hospital. The department collaborates with many leading figures and institutions around the world such as Harvard University (USA), WHO (Geneva), Michigan State University (USA), University of California, Davis (USA), Université Paris Descartes (France), University of Valencia (Spain), Hospital del Mar (Spain), State University of New York at Stony Brook, Department of Psychiatry, NY, USA, School of Public Health, University of Tokyo, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, Department of Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology and the University Medical Centre Groningen, (Netherlands).
 
Programmes:
 
The mental health experts at the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology have conducted the Lebanese Evaluation of the Burden of Ailments and Needs Of the Nation (LEBANON) Study in collaboration with the Harvard Medical School-US and the World Health Organization (WHO)-Geneva. This study was part of the World Mental Health (WMH) Survey Initiative and was conducted in over 27 countries around the world with Lebanon as the first Middle Eastern country to join these surveys. The LEBANON study was conducted all over Lebanon and it is the first nationwide study that represents the entire Lebanese population.
 
The LEBANON study aims at prioritizing mental health disorders in Lebanon on the agenda of health care systems through focusing on a specialized plan to improve the public perception of mental health and give mental health its due place. The results of this extensive national study are extremely important for the Lebanese community and the Arab world, and, for the first time, the department has a complete database on mental health and all associated general health problems to be used towards policy making.
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology is the official training site for the Arabic World Mental Health Composite International Diagnostic Interview (WMH-CIDI), which is the instrument used in the 29 countries participating in the WMH Surveys. The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology has already trained teams of mental health professionals from Iraq, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank) on the CIDI.
 
The department has trained medical students (interns and residents), psychology students (graduates with a bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral and postdoctoral degree), nursing students (undergraduate and graduate students), pharmacy students, social workers and teachers and educators from several universities in Lebanon. Moreover, members of the Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology and the International Medical Corps (IMC) Lebanon trained national primary health care staff (physicians, nurses, midwives) to integrate the provision of mental health care into their clinical and public health practice. The training enabled the trainees to identify and treat minor and moderate mental illness such as anxiety, depression, stress disorders and unexplained medical complaints and provided immediate care for acute serious mental disorders.
 
Performance:
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology members have been conducting research in the field of mental health since 1982. At that time, they were faced with a grim reality: there was no data on mental health disorders in Lebanon, nor any available assessment tools to assess the prevalence of these disorders on a large scale. Above all, the Lebanese wars had been ravaging Lebanon for many years and there was little knowledge about their effect on the mental health of
the population.
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology members have dedicated themselves to mental health in Lebanon and the Arab World. Their mission is to conduct and promote research in mental health on national, regional and international levels as well as conduct community interventions and raise public awareness about mental health and mental disorders. As one of the leading mental health departments in the Middle East, they offer regional training in mental health and implements community programs and services in prevention and intervention for at- risk groups.
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology has effectively grown up into a total mental healthcare institution, providing overall in-patient and out-patient services to the community. Nurses, medical students, residents and psychology interns work together in teams to meet patient’s needs under the watchful eyes of senior psychiatrists and psychologists.
 
In the past five years, the department members have offered 3,955 free visits to patients, as well as 9,070 visits at discounted rates. In addition to these free clinical consultations, the Department members under- take visits to homebound elderly people and those with debilitating diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, who are unable to come to the clinics.
 
Awards and Recognition:
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology has received prestigious grants from organizations with high scientific caliber to conduct research studies and projects such as the European Commission (Building Resilience among Lebanese Children Exposed to Armed Conflict (2009), European Union EU/ECHO Program/Handicap International (Assessment Study of Psychosocial Status of Children And Adolescents in the South of Lebanon and Southern Suburbs of Beirut (2007), UNFPA (Assessment of Psychosocial and Mental Health Needs of Women In War Affected Regions (2007), OXFAM-Quebec, Canada (Parenting skills treatment program for mothers of children with behavioral problems (2005), World Health Organization, Fogarty International Center, USA, National Institute of Mental Health, USA, US Public Health Service, Ministry of Public Health, Lebanon, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODCC), World Vision, UNICEF (Regional Office Jordan). The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology team has won the Medchild Award for Best Practices in Health for its work on Children and War. The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology has been selected from among 90 submissions from various countries in the region and around the Mediterranean, including Europe.
 
The Department of Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology deserves the Hamdan Award for Medical college / Institute Centre in the Arab world in recognition of its pioneering work in mental health research, promoting and increasing public awareness about the mental health over the years and for its research programmes in mental health.
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