Electroconvulsive Therapy Services

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) team at Springfield Memorial Hospital, is dedicated to improving quality of life for individuals with a broad range of mental health conditions. ECT helps to improve the chemical pathways in the brain, permitting an adjustment of neurotransmitters that affect mood and behavior. ECT involves the use of an electrical impulse to elicit a seizure under medically controlled conditions. It is performed under the guidance of a psychiatrist and an anesthesiologist. Each treatment is performed while the patient is under general anesthesia and takes only minutes to complete.

Treatment Approach: ECT is often the treatment of choice for individuals who don’t respond well to medications, have excessive side effects from medications, are actively suicidal or catatonic. Patients may have treatments either on an inpatient or outpatient basis. All new referrals will receive ECT on an inpatient basis. Most patients who come to SMH for ECT will receive approximately 8-12 treatments over a period of three to four weeks. If the patient shows improvement and tolerates treatments well, patients can transition to outpatient for continuation of their acute series or maintenance ECT. Patients who receive outpatient treatment are required to have continuous supervision by a responsible adult and are unable to drive or go to work until released by the psychiatrist. The psychiatrist works with patient to decide if outpatient ECT is a viable option. Some patients may have a need for maintenance ECT in order to sustain early improvements from an acute series of treatments. A maintenance plan of medications and/or ECT might be advisable. Treatment is administered within Psychiatric Services, located on fifth floor of SMH.

Initial Evaluation: A psychiatric evaluation is performed to determine the appropriateness of ECT treatment. Patients also receive a medical evaluation, blood tests, chest x-ray and an electrocardiogram (EKG) before beginning ECT.

Procedure: Patient is put into a state of sleep with a short-acting anesthetic. A muscle relaxant is administered, followed by a low-voltage electrical stimulus to the brain eliciting a seizure. The patient is then transitioned to a post-anesthesia recovery area to be monitored and is usually fully awake within 20 minutes.

Potential Side Effects: ECT is considered one of the safest treatment options for medically fragile patients, including the elderly, pregnant women and patients who have limited tolerance to psychiatric medications. Some patients may experience adverse side effects, which can include memory problems, headache or confusion. Other side effects may include muscle soreness, nausea and temporary irregularities in heart rate and blood pressure.

Treatment Team: Our highly qualified treatment team has been specially trained in ECT and includes psychiatrists, advance practice nurses, nurse anesthetists, anesthesiologists, mental health techs, psychiatric nurses and registered nurses trained in post-anesthesia care. Memorial partners with the Department of Psychiatry at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine for extensive education and training to medical students and resident physicians on providing ECT and other somatic modalities of treatment.

Business Hours & Contact Information
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
6:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Call 217-788-4364 during normal business hours to speak to a nurse about ECT services.

You can park in lot 10, located directly across from the main lobby. Patients also may be dropped off at the main entrance circle drive. Enter lobby and take main elevators to the fifth floor. Proceed down the hall. We are the first door past the burn unit on the left.

Springfield Memorial Hospital

Referring clinicians should complete the ECT Referral Form.

For emergency referrals that may result in a transfer of care from an inpatient psychiatric unit to our hospital, specifically for ECT, please call 217-788-3513 to speak with the nurse manager.