Private Mental Health Practice Closes in Duluth

By KBJR News 1

May 31, 2013 Updated May 31, 2013 at 9:14 PM CST

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) ---After more than 10 years of service to the Northland mental health community, a private psychiatric practice has closed its doors in Duluth.

Dr. Joseph Sivak of Duluth says the revamped national health care system requiring electronic records and prescriptions is forcing him to close his private practice.

"It's distracting from taking care of your patients,” he said. “You have your head and your face in a computer, when you should be seeing a patient.”

Dr, Sivak says his office prided itself on maintaining a strong physician-patient relationship.

"We call ourselves a one provider mental health center,” Josh Soderholm, Assistant Office Administrator said. “We've formed close relationships with our patients seeing them monthly versus at minimum every three months."

To ensure his patients continue to receive quality care, Dr. Sivak created a personalized care plan for each of his patients as he referred them to other care facilities.

"We made sure everyone had a follow up appointment with a psych or mental health provider, or with their primary care physician," he said.

Clinical psychotherapist Troy Otterson, who was working with Dr. Sivak in a nearby suite, will maintain his psychotherapy practice, now without a psychiatrist.

He says Dr. Sivak's decision to close is a strong example of a growing problem in the medical industry.

“The whole field is trying to figure out how to serve a growing number of people with less and less specialty,” Otterson said. “We should be looking at and maintaining psychiatrists."

For now, Dr. Sivak says he will practice out of the Fairview hospital in Hibbing.

"I'll keep going and I will adapt in whatever way I have to adapt to the changes in health care,” he said.

Dr. Sivak's practice in the Medical Arts Building in Downtown Duluth, closed Friday at 3:30 p.m.

Jennifer Walch
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