SVMC Partners with UCS for Mental Health Consultations

May 12, 2017

BENNINGTON, VT—May 12, 2017—Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC) and United Counseling Service (UCS) have partnered to improve patients’ access to mental health services. As of May 1, UCS prescribing practitioners have started consulting on patients at in the emergency department or hospitalized at SVMC.

“By partnering with UCS, we are able to provide mental health services sooner than in the past,” said Trey Dobson, MD, a specialist in emergency medicine, chief medical officer at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center, and medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians. “This is crucial in relieving some of their stress and improving their stay at SVMC.”

The providers include Drs. Catherine Hickey, Lisa Howard, and Alya Reeve and Debra Lucey, advanced practice registered nurse. All are employees of UCS, who are contracted to provide services at SVMC, with significant clinical experience. They will consult on patients who have a primary or secondary mental health diagnosis, assist with policy and guideline development, attend providers from many specialties during rounds, and conduct educational sessions for staff.

“Like many places all over the country, there is a big need for mental health care in our area,” said Alya Reeve, MD, MPH, UCS’s medical director. “We are hopeful that our providers will promote healthy outcomes for people seeking treatment at SVMC. It is a pleasure to develop this partnership with the providers, staff, and administration of SVMC.”

About the providers:

Dr. Catherine Hickey received her medical degree from Baylor College in Houston, TX, and her master’s in biology from the University of Pittsburg. She holds a bachelor’s in history from the University of Rochester in New York. She completed her residency at the University of Louisville College of Medicine in Kentucky. She worked as a staff psychiatrist at UCS 1998 – 2011,then as medical director 2012 – 2014. She worked as a psychiatrist in New Zealand in 2015, and she returned to a staff psychiatrist role in 2016. She is board-certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

Dr. Lisa Howard received her medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in New York and her bachelors in biology and women’s studies from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. She is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She has taught at Harvard Medical School, including a course on Emergency Psychiatry. In addition, her work experience includes a private psychiatry practice in Litchfield, CT, since 2000, and serving as staff psychiatrist at Bennington College Psychological Services 2008 – 2016.

Dr. Alya Reeve has been the medical director at UCS since 2015, before which she was a full professor and clinician educator for the departments of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pediatrics at the University of New Mexico. She received her bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College and her medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine in Farmington. She has participated in several residencies and fellowships, including those at Dartmouth School of Medicine in Hanover, NH, and at the National Institutes of Mental Health in Washington, DC. In 2009, she earned her Master of Public Health degree from the University of New Mexico. She is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. She is a Fellow of the American Neuropsychiatric Association and a Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Debra Lucey, NP, MSN, APRN, PMHCNS-BC, NEA-BC, has worked with UCS since 2013. In the past, she has also worked as vice president of Patient Care Services and chief nursing officer at the Brattleboro Retreat in Vermont and as the director of Psychiatric Services at Northern Berkshire Health Care in North Adams, MA. She received both her master of Nursing Practice and her master’s degree in psychiatric and mental health nursing from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Worcester State College and an associate’s in nursing from Greenfield Community College, both in Massachusetts. She is certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

About Southwestern Vermont Health Care:
Southwestern Vermont Health Care (SVHC) is a comprehensive, preeminent health care system providing exceptional, convenient, and affordable care to the communities of Bennington and Windham Counties of Vermont, eastern Rensselaer and Washington Counties of New York, and northern Berkshire County in Massachusetts. SVHC’s providers are members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Putnam Physicians, a multispecialty medical group operated in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock. SVHC includes the Centers for Living and Rehabilitation, a 150-bed long- and short-term care skilled nursing facility; the SVHC Foundation; and Southwestern Vermont Medical Center (SVMC), which includes 19 primary and specialty care practices. Primary care offices are located in Bennington, Manchester, Pownal, and Wilmington. To learn more, visit

About United Counseling Service:
United Counseling Service provides support and guidance to help individuals and families improve their quality of life. UCS provides outpatient counseling and addictions services, emergency mental health services, extensive rehabilitation services, home and school-based services, employment services for people recovering from mental illness or with developmental disabilities and a nationally recognized Head Start program. To learn more visit