Michael Ratener MD / Psychiatry

Information for New Medication Consultation Patients

I'm writing this note as an introduction for new clients, because I will not have had personal phone contact with you before we meet in the office. For several years, I handled most of the aspects of my psychiatric practice myself. I enjoyed the friendliness of that approach, but it just took too many hours to do the scheduling, answer all the calls, etc. Instead, my office assistants, Merri Brown and Janet Carter, are taking care of those functions. They currently staff the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, so if you call on those days you have a good chance of reaching a live human being - and a very kind one.

Part of the point of this note is to assure you that, when we meet, I will do my best to be responsive to your concerns, questions and preferences. I regard your treatment as something we decide on together, not as something I would try to dictate. I also do not recommend that everyone I evaluate try medications; I myself have other interests, in meditation, psychotherapy, and other kinds of self-care, and sometimes recommend that you try those before you turn to medications.

My background includes many years of Tibetan Buddhist practice and training in a Sufi healing tradition. Over the years I've led workshops on various aspects of meditation and psychotherapy. I've given talks for groups of clergy, physicians, psychotherapists, and the general public. I was also the Medical Director of the Serenity Eating Disorders Program at Mt. Diablo Hospital.

For patients who do not have health insurance with mental health benefits, I know that this consultation and follow-up care will be a significant expense for you. I take that into account in setting the length and frequency of follow-up appointments, though of course those are guided mostly by what is actually needed for your care. Generally I find that, if you are not in crisis and aren't having any unusual problems with your medication, a first follow up will take a half-hour and can be scheduled about a month after the first appointment. The second follow-up might follow that same pattern, or might not come as soon. Other follow-ups will be scheduled as needed, though at least every 3 to 6 months during the time I am prescribing medication for you.

If you need to cancel or reschedule, please call at least two business days before your appointment. Generally, with that much of a lead-time, we can arrange for someone else to come in to use the appointment time. With less notice, we don't have an opportunity to do that. We will bill for the time booked if an appointment is canceled with less than 24 hours notice.

One additional note: I use a computer to take notes while we meet. I'm mentioning that because I know it can be off-putting at first for some clients. I've found, though, that the increased detail that it allows in my notes can be very useful later in treatment; for example, if we are reviewing whether a medicine has been useful, or caused too many side effects. I'm familiar enough with using the computer that I can also maintain eye contact better than I could when I took notes by hand (since I mostly don't have to look at the keyboard). I do use encryption software to make sure that your records remain confidential.

I do not want any of these factors to reduce the quality of the care you receive, or the comfort that you have in seeing me. Feedback is appreciated, regarding any aspect of how I work.

Thank you,
Michael Ratener M.D.

voice (510) 981-0800, fax (510) 981-8440
2914 Domingo Ave. Suite B Berkeley California 94705
just across the street from the Claremont Hotel

unmetered on-street parking available on
Claremont Blvd. just north of Ashby

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