We’re very pleased that Dr. Tracy Tomac, who was one of the early collaborators in the development of the Ecumen Awakenings ™ program, is going to continue to partner with us as consulting psychiatrist for Ecumen Awakenings as it moves into its fourth year.
Dr. Tomac currently works at Regions Hospital in St. Paul as an inpatient psychiatry hospitalist. From 2001-2011 she worked at St. Luke’s in Duluth in inpatient, outpatient and nursing home psychiatry. In 2009, while practicing in Duluth, she collaborated with our colleagues at Ecumen Scenic Shores in Two Harbors on a pilot program to systematically reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs for residents with dementia. Over a six-month period, the nursing home went from a very sedate, quiet place to a much livelier setting. In fact, many residents began engaging in new ways, such as playing balloon volleyball. The Awakenings approach helped bring out skills and abilities that had been masked by the antipsychotic medications.
The pilot program focused on using behavioral therapy instead of drugs to calm residents, and the approach was so successful that Ecumen began implementing the program in 15 other Ecumen nursing homes with the help of a $3.8 million grant from the State of Minnesota. Ecumen is hopeful that Ecumen Awakenings helps lead to a new Alzheimer’s care “best practice” that can ultimately bring thousands of people who live with the challenges of Alzheimer’s new vitality, joy and dignity.
In her consulting capacity with Ecumen Awakenings, Dr. Tomac will conduct educational sessions and work on program development and coordination with physicians. Dr. Tomac will be presenting the Awakenings Program and Outcomes at the Minnesota Medical Directors Association (MMDA) Annual Fall Conference in October.
Dr. Tomac has 15 years experience in nursing home psychiatry and is a longstanding member of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. She attended Texas A&M College of Medicine and completed residency training at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. She teaches medical students, residents and physician assistant students and is a medical coordinator for the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice.