After nearly eight months as a member of the psychiatric team at Washington County Mental Health Services, Justin Knapp, M.D., has accepted the role as medical director of the state-designated agency that serves the Washington County catchment area. Dr. Knapp’s extensive experience in leading and providing psychiatric services to the individuals under his and his team’s care will help guide the agency in meeting the increasing clinical demands at one of the county’s largest employers and the state’s second largest designated agency. Dr. Knapp took the helm as medical director on July 30 and will provide oversight to all five agency divisions and a psychiatric staff of five professionals. He will continue to be located at the agency’s Center for Counseling and Psychiatric Services offices and Building C, both located on the Central Vermont Medical Center campus in Berlin. He will also become a member of the agency’s senior managers leadership team.
Dr. Knapp is a seasoned practitioner and leader. Before his arrival at Washington County Mental Health Services, he served as medical director of inpatient psychiatry at Central Vermont Medical Center, where he oversaw the psychiatric care provided to the medical center’s emergency department, inpatient psychiatry unit, and general units throughout the facility. Under his leadership, he helped the emergency department improve the provider assessment process and resulting client treatment, meeting the demands of a three-fold increase in the number of patients with a mental health crisis. Dr. Knapp’s clinical experience also helped the inpatient unit at Central Vermont Medical Center meet the needs of patients with severe mental health issues. With his guidance, psychiatric care at the hospital extended into the community, where he collaborated with the Intensive Care Services team and other community providers.
Before moving to Vermont from his home state of Wisconsin, Dr. Knapp served as the vice chair of the Psychiatry Department at Marshfield Clinic, a multispecialty facility with more than 700 physicians. He also served as co-medical director of Norwood Health Center, a county psychiatric hospital.
Dr. Knapp is also an educator, having served on the faculty at the University of Vermont Medical School, where he provided instruction to as many as 24 third-year medical school students on subjects covering psychiatric medications and interviewing patients.
He is a past member of the American Medical Association, American Psychiatric Association, and the Vermont Psychiatric Association. Dr. Knapp’s psychiatric residency took place at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
“Justin’s training, practice areas, and instructional experience will help usher in the next era of community mental health and disability services,” said Mary Moulton, executive director at Washington County Mental Health Services,. “Given the complexity, acuity, and dynamic nature of the individuals served by Washington County Mental Health Services, he’s the physician best suited to lead our team. As a community mental health agency, we’re so fortunate to have the depth and caliber of psychiatric expertise we do.”
Dr. Knapp’s breadth of experience in both leadership and clinical care will greatly contribute to the ongoing development of psychiatric services provided to the community and clients the agency serves, the capacity of which was augmented by outgoing medical director, Jessica O’Neil. He will help enhance psychiatric services throughout the agency’s five divisions and wide range of programs. Dr. Knapp will continue to lead the team at Second Spring, one of three community recovery residences located in Westford and Williamstown. Second Spring operates as a part of the Collaborative Solutions Corporation, a joint venture of the Howard Center, the Clara Martin Center, and Washington County Mental Health Services.
“The demands, complexity, and acuity of patients has increased in recent years and even more so as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr. Knapp. “It’s really tested our abilities as both a mental health and disabilities services provider, requiring that we look at innovative ways to continue to provide compassionate care to those who need our services, particularly in light of ongoing staffing challenges. And while we’ve elevated our ability to meet these demands, it’s unrelenting. Thankfully, we have one of the best teams, anywhere, working together. Taking on this role is both a challenge and an honor.”
Mental health is as important as and can lead to good physical health. The services of Washington County Mental Health Services, are available to everyone living in Washington County and the Orange County towns of Orange, Washington, and Williamstown. Most insurance is accepted, as is Medicaid and Medicare. For more information, visit wcmhs.org. The agency can be reached 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week by calling 802-229-0591.