Medical Professional of the Month: Cassandra Skul, PMHNP

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    “Just because you have a mental health condition doesn’t mean you are crazy.” This is what Cassandra Skul, a psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), wants people to know about mental health, an often-misunderstood topic. She explains that with proper treatment there are solutions, although they may not always be perfect. “I’m not giving up on [my patients],” she says. “As long as [they] keep coming, we will try to figure this out.”

    Cassandra is a dedicated and passionate nurse practitioner at ViaQuest, where she sees a wide range of patients. Among her typical community of patients she helps people with anxiety, depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia. In addition, she has two specialities: geriatrics and the developmentally-disabled population. Twice a week she visits patients who are in a nursing home. ViaQuest also runs group homes and residential services for those who have an underlying intellectual disability.

    The ViaQuest Community

    ViaQuest is a smaller organization, which means that Cassandra can spend quality time with her patients and get to know them. She takes the time to find the right diagnosis and to assess which treatment methods work and which do not. There are a multitude of resources in her office. Individuals can also see their case manager and counselor within the same location.

    The patients Cassandra sees sometimes are not only dealing with a mental disability, but also a comorbid (occurring at the same time) physical issue. She finds that in her community of patients there is a lot of chronic pain. Physical pain can impact your mental health, and can be an underlying cause of an inability to work.

    Cassandra strives to help people achieve their personal goals, whether it is to make it to their weekly meetings or to help get them back to work. “People think that people who don’t work are just lazy, and they don’t realize what an emotional impact not working has on somebody,” she says. “There are people I’ve had who weren’t working who were able to go back to work, which is what they wanted to do and had the capability of doing.” Her job gives her the opportunity to change people’s lives.

    If nothing else, she urges her patients not to give up. “Keep coming and keep trying,” she says. “If it’s not a good fit with one provider, try another”. Nurse Practitioner Skul knows the resilient Cleveland spirit which the community has. “We are friendlier. We’re tough and we’re gritty. We can take a beating and we still keep going.”>

    4700 Rockside Rd., Suite 100 Independence, OH 44131, (216) 750-2600