Inpatient Psychiatry

Medical Director: Maria T. Caserta, MD, PhD

The Adult Psychiatry inpatient unit on 8 East is a treatment, educational and research  psychiatric unit serving the University of Illinois at ChicagoMedicalCenter.  This unit represents a secure environment with a locked door to care for psychiatrically ill patients on a short-term basis.  Our concern is to provide comprehensive, interdisciplinary evaluations for patients with complex psychiatric, psychosocial and medical needs, and to develop an intensive treatment program to address those needs.  Our mission and purpose is the management of acute psychiatric episodes and the prompt return of the patient to an appropriate care setting at home and in the community. Inpatient Adult Psychiatry at UICMedicalCenter is also a training site that provides a unique training experience for disciplines involved in the diagnosis and treatment of serious mental illness.  The unit is a major training site for the Psychiatry residency program at UIC, as well as medical students, social work students, nursing students and occupational therapy students at UIC.

Our unit can hold up to 37 patients, and is staffed by 4 attending physicians, full time psychiatrists who lead treatment teams focused on particular specialty areas: Mood and Anxiety disorders, Psychotic disorders, Neuropsychiatry and Women’s Mental Health, each  with significant  expertise in each of these areas. We have a skilled team of nurses and mental health counselors and social workers, as well as Occupational and Music Therapists.


The mission of Nursing at the University of Illinois Medical Center is to provide a holistic approach towards optimizing outcomes of our culturally diverse population.  We deliver the highest standards of nursing care through evidence-based practice, shared leadership and sensitivity to the uniqueness of each patient and their families.  While we welcome ever-changing technology, individual respect and compassion remain at the core of our practice.

Our patient care units have a Dyad Nursing Model consisting of a Nurse Manager and a Clinical Nurse Specialist.  Our staff consists of Bachelor’s & Master’s prepared nurses, Advanced Practice Nurses, and Baccalaureate prepared Mental Health Counselors. UIC supports the continuing education of staff and research.

We are committed to fostering an environment that promotes respect, positive communication and collaboration among all team members.  Every day we touch the lives of patients, their families and many healthcare disciplines.   We are committed to excellence in nursing by creating a culture of lifelong learning that integrates evidence-based practice, research and professional development.


Music and Occupational Therapy:

Music and occupational therapists are also a part of the interdisciplinary treatment teams on 8East. There are 1.5 occupational therapists and 1 occupational therapy assistant who assess patient’s current level of functioning looking particularly at their  routine, interests, environment, life roles, process and communication skills as this related to everyday functioning prior to admission. There is a half time music therapist who also provides service to the unit. Together, Occupational Therapy and Music Therapy provide a variety of treatment groups focusing on developing coping skills and positive communication with others, providing recreation/diversion as well as an opportunity for ongoing assessment of functional skills while patients are engaged in activity throughout the hospitalization. Treatment groups are designed to meet individual needs therefore there are some groups for all patients and some referral groups that target individual symptoms.

Some examples of groups are as follows:

  • Assertiveness
  • Exercise
  • Life Skills
  • Mindfulness
  • Music Therapy
  • Recreation
  • Relaxation

Social Work:

The social work team on 8 East is comprised of 4 social workers each of whom contributes their expertise to their respective treatment teams.  Social work focuses on psychosocial assessment of each patient and interventions targeted at achieving and maintaining our patient’s stability during and following the hospitalization.  We work with the patient to provide education, explore treatment options, strengthen their support network and overcome obstacles to treatment adherence.  The social work team on 8 East in committed to adding a psychosocial perspective to the medical model and advocating for patients who struggle with the symptoms of mental illnesses.

Highlights from the Psychiatry Unit Mission Statement  and Policy:

  1. ”The therapeutic environment will preserve patients’ dignity, maintain confidentiality and foster mutual respect and acceptance”.
  2. “Treatment is conceptualized as a collaborative relationship with patients and relatives with the purpose of finding personally appropriate solutions to their mental health problems”.
  3. “Patients’ are regarded with compassion and interactions met with calmness, respect and gentleness”.
  4. There must be strict adherence to the mandatory requirements of the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code.

“The multidisciplinary team will develop a therapeutic program consisting of a combination of planned, structured and spontaneous activities which can be both divisional or treatment specific.  All staff members need to have an understanding of the rational for engaging in activities to ensure effective support and implementation of this structure”.

8 East Administrative Team


Maria T Caserta, MD,PhD
Director, Inpatient Psychiatry

Barbra Washington, RN
Associate Director of Nursing

Lori Carr, RN
Administrative Nurse I

Sarah Skinner, Med, OTR/L
Team Leader, Psychiatric Occupational/Music Therapy

Veronica Stefanek, LCSW
Manager, Behavioral Health Social Work

Inpatient Treatment teams:


  1. Mood and Anxiety Disorders— Attending Physician, Maria T Caserta, MD, PhD who is also Medical Director of the Inpatient Unit
  2. Neuropsychiatry—Attending Physician, Eric Gausche ,MD,  Fellow in Neuropsychiatry and Michael Schrift, MD, Director of Neuropsychiatry Program
  3. Psychotic Disorders—Attending Physician, Hugo Solari, MD, Asst. Prof of Psychiatry
  4. Women’s Mental Health—Attending Physician, Vesna Pirec, MD, PhD,  Director of Women’s Mental Health Program