Medical-Psychiatry Unit Consortium

The MPU Consortium

MPUs, also known as Complexity Intervention Units, were created to deliver optimum acute hospital care to patients who have concomitant medical and psychiatric needs. Due to their trans-disciplinary nature, MPUs are also an ideal venue for engaging patients in the services they may be struggling to navigate in a fragmented health-care system. The primary mission of the MPU consortium is to bring together clinicians, educators and scholars working on Medical Psychiatry Units to exchange experiences and collaborate on new initiatives to improve outcomes for patients with complex needs.

The Association of Medicine and Psychiatry has always been a gathering place for clinicians working at the intersection of medicine and psychiatry including MPUs. Members of the Association of Medicine and Psychiatry, including pre-eminent scholar of MPUs, Dr. Roger Kathol, have been strong proponents of their value and dual-boarded physicians are ideally trained to work on and run MPUs. Yet, despite evolving evidence of the benefits of MPUs, most MPUs developed in isolation of one another with little concerted effort for organizing data or outcomes across institutions. The MPU consortium aims to change this.

MPU Clinicians and Scholars Recognized a Need for Collaboration

The first meeting was the result of a series of discussions between several AMP members who had an interest in studying and disseminating data related to the value of MPUs. Current MPU consortium chair, Dr. Marsha Wittink, met with Dr. Roger Kathol in 2018, who subsequently introduced her to MPU study group members, Dr. Maarten van Schijdel and Dr. Ashley Ellison. The international MPU study group were conducting a survey to assess the prevalence of MPUs across the United States. The idea of convening a group at the AMP meeting began to coalesce in these discussions. AMP member Dr. Aubrey Chan was also part of the initial team of organizers, having recently published a paper in Annals of Internal Medicine describing 5 MPUs across the US. (Chan et al., 2018)

The Inaugural MPU Consortium Meeting

The first MPU consortium meeting was held during the 2019 AMP conference in Atlanta Georgia. Nearly 60 conference attendees joined the reception and brainstormed about experiences on MPU and ways to collaborate and collect data.

Among those in attendance was Dr. Vicki Kijewski, the medical director of the first known MPU in the US at the University of Iowa. Dr. Kijewski and Dr. Telva Olivares (Director of Medicine and Psychiatry Services at the University of Rochester) talked about their well-oiled units and some of the many things they have learned about running successful units along the way. Both physicians have been incredible resources over the years for others interested in developing MPUs.

Other AMP members, including Dr. Susan Padrino and Dr. Brad McConville, talked about the challenges and successes of building their new units at University Hospitals of Cleveland (Ohio) and Tulane University respectively. Other AMP members who were in various stages of thinking about starting MPUs joined the meeting from Kalamazoo, University of Texas, UC Davis, SUNY Downstate, Augusta University, Cincinnati, St. Louis University, Southern Illinois University, University of Kentucky and Wisconsin.

The first actionable item that resulted from the meeting was the creation of an email list-serv to continue conversations virtually. Soon after, we created a Google Drive folder to collect resources, relevant publications and clinical protocols (see below). We are excited to continue to develop the consortium and welcome new members. We will plan to have a virtual meeting for the next AMP meeting in 2020 that has been moved on-line.

If you are interested in more information about the MPU Consortium or to be added to the email list-serve please send an email to:

Chair: Marsha Wittink, MD, MBE

The MPU Interest group has created a Google Drive folder called “MPU Interest Group” 

The following folders can be found on the Google Drive: 

1. Resources folder: This folder contains an excel document with 3 pages that include:

  • Information about known MPUs (e.g. where they are, how many beds, staffing model, whether they offer telemetry or not etc.)
  • A list of MPU websites

  • A list of MPU Consortium members

2. Papers folder: This folder contains peer-reviewed, data driven and descriptive papers about MPUs

3. Meeting Minutes folder: This folder contains minutes from any meetings of the special interest group.

4. MPU protocols folder: This folder contains information about unit processes and protocols, e.g. admissions criteria, protocols for managing certain conditions or conducting interdisciplinary rounds, etc.    

5. MPU study group folder: This folder contains data shared by the MPU study group, including hospitals that met initial screening criteria for having some form of integrated care or MPU.