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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

First Somatic Center for Veterans in Puerto Rico & USVI to open in San Juan


The Veterans Affairs Caribbean Healthcare System and some providers currently offer electroconvulsive therapy in Puerto Rico, but military veterans must travel to the mainland United States to receive rTMS or esketamine.

By The Star Staff


VA Caribbean Healthcare System (VACHS) will open the first Somatic Center for Veterans diagnosed with a mental health disorder in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands early next month.


The center will offer electroconvulsive therapy, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), and esketamine for veterans with a major depressive disorder who do not respond to other more conventional treatments.


The VAHCS and some providers currently offer electroconvulsive therapy in Puerto Rico. However, veterans must travel to the mainland United States to receive rTMS or esketamine. The U.S. Virgin Islands have none of these services.


“Veterans who continue to experience severe major depressive disorder, despite multiple medication trials, are at risk for suicide and disability due to their inadequately controlled depression,” said Dr. Marlene M. Pierantoni, the acting chief of psychiatry and acute care at VAHCS.


Doctor Melanie Pérez, the associate chief of staff of mental health and behavioral health sciences service at VACHS, expressed her pride in the historic achievement.


“It is our mission to ensure that our veterans have access to leading-edge treatments that have been peer-reviewed,” she said.


The center’s grand opening ceremony is on Thursday, May 4 at 11 a.m. at VAHCS Medical Center in the South Tower, second floor, office J-200 in San Juan. For more information, contact Coralys M. Ruiz Jiménez, director of the VACHS Office of Communications and Legislative Affairs, at 939-331-1597 or coralys.ruiz-jimenez@va.gov.

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