Parramatta Psychiatric Centre

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The Parramatta Psychiatric Centre has provided clinical experience for medical students since 1968. The history of the Centre dates back to 1846, at which time a tract of land for an asylum was granted. Before 1960 the centre was known as Parramatta Mental Hospital and operated in a traditional role. However, following the complete reorganization of the Centre after 1960, it was modernized and now has responsibility for the assessment and care of patients admitted from the western part of Sydney. Because of its association with community after-care services, the number of long-stay patients has dropped dramatically. With the growing population in the west of Sydney, the centre has become one of the busiest admission units for the care of acutely ill patients with psychiatric disorders, and specialized services have been developed for geriatric psychiatry, drug- and alcohol-dependency, rehabilitation, community placement and psychotherapy. Before the introduction of the medical student teaching affiliation, the Centre became active in preparing practitioners for Membership of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. A large psychiatric nurses’ training school was also well established.

Arrangements were made for medical students to be supervised by senior medical staff and psychiatrists in relation to their direct experiences of interviewing and assessing patients with common psychiatric disorders. Tutorials were provided on the range of clinical problems and disorders encountered. Improvement in the range of texts and references in the Centre’s medical library was arranged specifically to aid the medical students in their studies. Recently, the number of medical students has increased, with those from Concord and Westmead Hospitals being allocated terms at the Centre and at its associated community mental health clinics.

Over its fourteen years of affiliation with Sydney University, Parramatta Psychiatric Centre has continued to provide the main facility for admissions of referred patients from the major part of the western region of Sydney. The number of admissions has fallen somewhat since the introduction of community mental health services which, through crisis intervention, have avoided some admissions. There are about 200 inpatients who stay an average of approximately twenty-six days; they have problems including psychoses, neurotic disorders, depression, personality disorders, drug- and alcohol-dependency, neuropsychiatric conditions and organic brain syndromes. About 200 acutely ill patients are cared for by four admission teams, each with a multi-disciplinary approach: two adult admission units covering defined geographic areas, a geriatric psychiatry unit, and a drug- and alcohol-dependency unit. With 2,200 admissions per annum, the Hospital enables students to obtain a wide experience through tutorials and individual supervision.

Source: K. Henson, "The Parramatta Psychiatric Centre" in Young J, Sefton A and Webb N, Centenary Book of the University of Sydney Faculty of Medicine. Sydney University Press, Sydney