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BCH Celebrates 10 Years of Transforming Lives with ECT

BCH Celebrates 10 Years of Transforming Lives with ECT

Patients Testify to A Decade of Proven Relief For Hard-to-Treat Psychiatric Disorders

People suffering from severe depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia sometimes find that standard treatments such as medication or talk therapy provide only limited or even no relief from their illness. Facing a treatment-resistant psychiatric disorder can trigger a downward spiral of despair, one that exacerbates an already severe and often debilitating illness. People who see little hope for recovery can turn to self-harm out of desperation. 

But for the past 10 years, BCH has been offering patients a proven, safe and often life-changing alternative therapy for such disorders. 

Called Electroconvulsive Therapy, or ECT, the treatment has a remarkable track record. Studies indicate that 80 to 90 percent of patients suffering from severe depressive illness respond favorably to ECT, making it one of the most effective treatments for all forms of depression. ECT can also provide relief for patients with other complicated biologically-based illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“This treatment is really a godsend for so many folks who thought they  had nowhere left to turn for relief,” says Daniel Fisher, M.D., a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in treatment-resistant mood disorders. “The post-treatment feedback we’ve gotten from many of our patients is truly extraordinary and inspiring.”

Ten Years of Results: It Literally Saved My Life”

At BCH, ECT services are provided by the Guerra Fisher Institute located in the Della Cava Family Medical Pavilion, the newest addition to our Foothills Medical Campus. The Institute’s staff features the most experienced ECT practitioners in the Mountain States region, including doctors who’ve administered more than 60,000 such treatments, plus a team of seasoned nurses with specialized ECT training and years of experience.

As for our results, here’s a sample of patient notes written to the ECT staff:

Amy Y writes: “What you did for me is nothing short of miraculous. I am alive and able to cherish every moment of the holidays with my family and friends … Without you, I would not be here today.”

Judy B did 16 ECT treatments over three months in 2019. She writes: “I just wanted to say thank you for bringing me back. I am much better and feel more like the person I was before the severe anxiety and depression took over my state of mind. You treated me like family, which made the entire process comfortable and comforting.”

Steven H received 34 ECT treatments over 18 months and today he says: “You’re such a great team, you care and it shows … and for me, I hate to get dramatic, but yes, you guys saved my life. I will always be grateful to each and every one of you! You gave me a second chance.”

Marie M writes: “When I first started [ECT] treatment, I could barely function … but I could feel it was helping me dig out of a very black hole. Now that the veil of depression has been lifted, I cannot thank you enough for the unbelievable and undeniable difference you’ve made in my life. I am a huge proponent of ECT and wish more people could see past the stigma.”

Norma writes of her ECT therapy: “It did save my life. ECT created new avenues in my brain and helped me start thinking differently. I felt more hope, and with that hope came strength.”

Val S writes: “ECT Staff: You’ve always helped me through rough times to regain a good quality of life I wouldn’t have otherwise. I am forever grateful for your awesome care and dedication.”

Overcoming the Myths About ECT

ECT has come a long way in the 80 years since its introduction. Unfortunately, misconceptions still persist. In the early days, when it was known as “electroshock therapy,” the procedure could trigger intense physical reactions with occasional side effects. Sensationalized depictions in movies and TV further skewed public perceptions. As pointed out in one of our testimonials, an unfair stigma became attached to ECT. As a result, the therapy hasn’t helped as many people as it could.

Today, ECT is delivered in a safe, controlled setting, with patients surrounded by a specialized team of psychiatrists, anesthesiologists and registered nurses. The therapy is administered under general anesthesia, meaning patients are in a sleep-like state and totally unaware the procedure is taking place. During an ECT session, electrical currents are quickly passed through the patient’s brain. This induces a brief seizure that changes the brain’s chemistry, resulting in beneficial mood changes. 

“Our techniques have improved significantly over the past 25 years,” says Dr. Fisher. “ECT is thought to correct biochemical and even structural abnormalities that underlie severe depressive disease. We’re still working on the neuroscience of what exactly happens because the circuitry of the human brain is so complex. But the outcomes are striking and dramatic. Many of our patients describe their ECT experience as ‘miraculous.’”

ECT Patients Are in Good Hands at BCH

At BCH, our ECT services provided at the Guerra Fisher Institute offer the following benefits: 

  • The most experienced practitioners in the Mountain States region: Collectively, our psychiatrists have nearly five decades of ECT experience and have performed more than 60,000 treatments.
  • Seasoned ECT nurses: Our team of registered nurses have specialized training in ECT and an average of over 10 years of experience.
  • A commitment to collaborating with referring clinicians: Our psychiatrists work closely and constantly communicate with patients’ referring clinicians, striving for seamless integration of care.
  • A leading health care system: Located on the Foothills Medical Campus, our program offers access to the full resources of Foothills Hospital and Boulder Community Health. And, it’s the only program in Boulder County operated by a not-for-profit health system.

To schedule an appointment at the Guerra Fisher Institute, please call 303-415-8611.