Pediatric health providers can now access the West Virginia Pediatric Access Line Service phoneline for children and adolescent mental health treatment advice.

WVPALS can be reached by calling 304-694-7257 or 304-694-PALS. Providers will be connected to specialty-trained faculty in the School of Medicine’s Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry.

The access line is provided with funds from Aetna Better Health of West Virginia and address an area of need in the state.

The program provides support to frontline pediatricians, family medicine practitioners and school healthcare providers by offering telephone access to a child and adolescent psychiatrist for informal consultation, advice and guidance.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends at least 47 practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists per 100,000 children and adolescents. West Virginia claims only nine practicing per that threshold.

“WVPALS allows us at a specialty-level to have a touch point with a pediatrician or primary care doctor in a patient’s hometown, so it relieves the burden on the patient to have a specialty referral outside of their community for topics that could easily be clarified or consulted on via phone,” Lauren Swager, M.D., WVU child and adolescent psychiatrist, said. Swagger is also the clinical director of WVPALS.

For more information on the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, visit medicine.hsc.wvu.edu/bmed.