The University of Iowa
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us


283 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034

Release: Immediate

UI psychiatrist directs program to help seriously mentally ill

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Remembering to take medications, schedule doctors appointments and doing everything that needs to be done in a day is difficult for anybody--but especially for people with a serious mental illness.

Forgetting the medications that allow average daily function, and not seeing a physician regularly can lead to the downward spiral that lands a mentally ill person in the hospital -- at great emotional and financial expense. Hospitalization can cost as much as $700 a day.

In an effort to stop this costly cycle, Dr. Gerard Clancy, a University of Iowa assistant professor of psychiatry, goes to patients who can't or don't come to him. A modern-day "old-fashioned doctor," Clancy hops into his blue Toyota pick-up truck to make house calls carrying a black canvas fanny pack rather than the traditional leather satchel.

Clancy is the director of IMPACT -- the Integrated Multi-Program Assertive Community Treatment program, one of a smattering of outreach programs in the country that brings treatment to the homes of seriously mentally ill people. Clancy, together with a team of community mental health workers, nurses and other physicians, keeps track of the seriously mentally ill to make sure they get the help they need to successfully live in the community. The care can be as simple as talking about how things are going over a cup of coffee or as involved as administering medications and doing a physical exam.

The program has improved independent living skills and social abilities among the 31 participating patients in Johnson County, Iowa. Involvement in IMPACT cut hospital stays from an average of 39 days per year per patient to 7.5 days, at a savings to the health care system of $433,550 per year, Clancy estimates.

"Treating the seriously mentally ill in their homes takes the potentially negative situation imposed by the financial pressures of managed care and making it positive," Clancy says. Radio seems to be the best medium for this story. Some of the IMPACT clients are willing to speak with reporters, but they don't want to be identified on film. Their voices, however, portray a lot about their illness and who they are. Clancy is articulate and is as comfortable speaking about the financial and social aspects of IMPACT as he is speaking about mental illness.

He can be reached at (319) 353-6959 or