Most psychologists in private practice keep regular office hours. Not Sherman C. Slone, PsyD, founding partner of Emergent Care Psychologists, PA, in
Pinellas Park, Florida. The five psychologists in his practice —
three full-time, two part-time — can find themselves working
after normal business hours, on weekends or over holidays as
they assess individuals who have been involuntarily committed
to see if they’re safe to release. Slone’s practice also assists other
patients in psychiatric, medical and rehabilitation hospitals,
helping them manage anxiety, depression and other problems.
The bulk of Slone’s work focuses on patients who have been
involuntarily committed by emergency room physicians, police
officers or even neighbors who have convinced judges someone
“These patients may have tried to hurt themselves, taken an
overdose or mentioned suicidal thoughts while intoxicated,”
says Slone, adding that many of these patients have substance
use issues. He and his colleagues conduct “lethality” assessments
to determine whether it’s safe to release patients to a less
restrictive level of care and also assess patients’ wishes and
competency to make decisions for themselves as they come up
with alternative treatment plans.
While Slone typically doesn’t have an ongoing relationship
with patients, he says, “obviously, we want to do the assessment
in a therapeutic manner.” For patients with substance use
problems, that could mean doing motivational interviewing,
helping them set up a plan for staying clean and referring them
to community agencies for further help.
Slone got his start in emergency care early in his career.
After earning his doctorate in clinical psychology from the
Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 1986, he spent
almost a decade working at Magellan Behavioral Health in
Tampa. Eventually, he became the area crisis director in charge
of evaluating and treating patients whose psychiatric and
substance use problems put them at risk of hospitalization.
In 1998, Slone and partner Emily J. Futch, PhD, founded
Emergent Care Psychologists. The practice now contracts
with half a dozen hospitals to provide care to all patients
with psychological concerns in exchange for a per patient or
“As far as I know, we’re the only group of psychologists in
the private sector who are contracting with medical hospitals
to provide psychological consultations,” says Slone, adding
that most local psychiatrists choose not to work with hospital
patients because so many of them are either on Medicaid or
lack insurance altogether.
Adventures in Integrated Care
Sherman C. Slone assesses patients who have been
involuntarily committed to emergency rooms and
medical and mental health facilities.
By Rebecca A. Clay