Individuals seeking psychiatric services in Southern Alameda County now
have access to a staff psychiatrist through Washington Hospital. Previously,
those individuals have had to rely on private doctors or travel to Oakland
to use county mental health services.
“Washington Hospital’s leadership has been concerned for some
time about how difficult it has been for residents to have access to local
community mental health services,” said Dr. Seema Sehgal, the new
psychiatrist on staff.
“We are breaking new ground and establishing psychiatry as a core
service through the Washington Hospital Medical Foundation,” Dr.
Sehgal explained. As the first physician in the new department, Dr. Sehgal
is working to expand services quickly.
The new Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science is located at 2299
Mowry Ave., suite, 2C, in Fremont, phone number (510) 248-1820. The department
opened for business at the end of March.
“The need is very real in the community,” Dr. Sehgal said.
“On my very first day, I had patients waiting to see me and I’ve
been seeing three or four new patients a day since then.” Patients
range in age from 18 years up.
Dr. Sehgal has extensive experience in Alameda County having served as
a staff psychiatrist with the Alameda County Department of Health Services
for the past 16 years. For 15 years, she worked in community psychiatry
dealing with severe, chronic mental illness.
During her time with Alameda County, Dr. Sehgal also was physician in charge
of the Integrated Primary Care and Behavioral Health Program.
She also was a crisis response psychiatrist for Alameda County for four
years working with acute/sub-acute psychiatric emergencies. And, she provided
short-term consultation and management for patients within the primary
care clinic network in Alameda County.
A native of India, Dr. Sehgal was a medical officer with the Indian Armed
Forces dealing with traumatic injuries and orthopedics before moving to
the United States. She served her psychiatric residency at California
Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and is certified by the American
Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
As a medical doctor, Dr. Sehgal can prescribe medications to patients.
Patients then can be seen by a therapist or return to their primary care
physician for follow-up.
Dr. Sehgal is working to expand Washington Township Medical Foundation’s
core services to include individual and group therapy, in addition to
the psychopharmacological (psychiatric medication management) services
with the help of additional psychiatrists and trained therapists.
In the future, she plans to offer community education programs about mental
health issues so that individuals in need, and their families and friends,
can learn about mental health issues and seek help sooner. “The
need is here,” she says.