The Lexington Medical Society Physician Wellness Program: Supporting our Members Since 2016
By Christophe Hickey, LMS EVP/CEO
The Lexington Medical Society Physician Wellness Program (LMS PWP) begins its ninth year of operation in 2024. The LMS PWP, one of the first programs established by a medical society in the nation, was created to help active physicians address normal life difficulties in a confidential and professional manner. Since then, the LMS PWP has expanded to include UK residents and fellows, medical students, and most recently LMS retired physicians. The LMS PWP has provided over 3,798 therapy sessions to hundreds of our members.
When the idea of creating a PWP for LMS was started, the LMS Executive Board directed the formation of a committee to create a plan for their approval. Dr. Robert Granacher, a psychiatrist, and Dr. John Patterson, a UK physician wellness instructor and owner of the Mind Body Studio here in Lexington, formed our LMS PWP committee. They saw that the most critical aspect we needed to build into our PWP was that it needed to be done in a way where the physician felt complete confidentiality. We got the idea for forming a PWP from a medical society in Oregon which created a therapy office within their medical society where a psychologist could meet with the physician. Both Dr. Granacher and Dr. Patterson immediately saw that bringing the physician to a PWP office within LMS would make it less confidential. The committee searched psychologist offices throughout Lexington and identified the Woodland Group as being the ideal choice. They visited their office and met Dr. Steven Smith and Dr. Sandra Hough and were impressed with their professionalism, experience with working with physicians, and their quiet office location on 2nd Street. LMS, with the LMS Executive Board approval, contracted with the Woodland Group to run our LMS PWP.
When a member calls the confidential hotline, (800) 350-6438, to make an appointment, they contact the Woodland Group. The Woodland Group sends LMS an invoice for the number of sessions used each month, no names. It is simple and completely confidential.
LMS partnered with a half dozen other medical societies back in 2018, under a grant from the Physician Leadership Foundation, and created an online toolkit, physicianwellnessprogram.org, to enable medical societies to replicate establishing a PWP. This effort has enabled physician wellness programs being established in over 3 dozen societies all over the country, including the Greater Louisville Medical Society and societies in Tennessee, Indianna, and Ohio.
The success of the LMS PWP would not be possible without financial support. The LMS PWP receives a grant each year from the Lexington Medical Society Foundation which funds half of the program’s costs. The other half is from LMS operational funds. UK reimburses LMS for residents, fellows, and medical students. This year, in addition to funding therapy sessions, the LMS Foundation awarded the LMS PWP a grant to provide four Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workshops over this next year. LMS is appreciative and thankful for the LMS Foundation, a separate 501 c 3 nonprofit organization, for its continued support of the LMS PWP. The LMS Foundation raises its funds through its annual golf tournament and member donations.