Eran Metzger, M.D., is the medical director of psychiatry at Hebrew SeniorLife working in the department of medicine. I sat down with him to learn more about his work with patients, the areas he’s researching, and why he’s committed to teaching the next generation of psychiatrists.
Dr. Metzger is board certified in psychiatry. He received his bachelor of arts from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and Doctor of Medicine from Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. He completed his internship at Brockton Hospital and his psychiatry residency and fellowship at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. After several years, he became medical director of an inpatient medical psychiatric unit at Beth Israel.
Dr. Metzger’s career at Hebrew SeniorLife began after a call from Dr. Lewis Lipsitz, M.D., who today is Hebrew SeniorLife’s chief academic officer and director of the Hinda and Arthur Marcus Institute for Aging Research. “The call came at a time when I personally becoming a little frustrated working in inpatient psychiatry,” said Dr. Metzger. “I wanted to spend more time with patients – the ability to work long-term with patients was what originally attracted me to the field of psychiatry.” Dr. Metzger said Dr. Lipsitz called him and asked him to come take a tour of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center in Boston, which is part of Hebrew SeniorLife. “I hadn’t thought of myself as becoming a geriatric psychiatrist but I really liked what I saw at Hebrew Rehabilitation Center,” he said. “I applied for the job and 21 years later, I’m still working at Hebrew SeniorLife.”
While at HSL, Dr. Metzger has been involved in many projects, including a large, three-year grant from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation in 2015. This grant supported the expansion of Hebrew SeniorLife’s “Making Real Progress in Emotional Health” program to patients enrolled in HSL Home Care. The goal is to increase access to screening, and connect behavioral health treatment with primary care and other health services to reduce the severity of depressive symptoms in seniors and improve their overall health. It was based on a similar successful program at Hebrew SeniorLife’s three supportive senior housing communities.
Patients who screen positive for mild to moderate depression receive basic problem-solving therapy from trained home care staff. Dr. Metzger and home care staff collaborate with each patient’s primary care provider to ensure continuity and integration of medical and psychiatric care. “This is very important work and hopefully, this integrated care program will serve as a replicable model for senior care organizations locally and nationally,” Metzger said.
Dr. Metzger also teaches and trains students from Harvard Medical School. “Hebrew SeniorLife is unique, not only in the Boston area but also nationally for providing an academic setting in long-term chronic care, post-acute care, and senior living psychiatric care,” Metzger said. Through his work at HSL, Dr. Metzger has created rotations for medical students and psychiatry residents that are intended to establish an interest among students in geriatric psychiatry.
Dr. Metzger acknowledges how grateful he is to work for an organization that takes pride in its care for patients. “Hebrew SeniorLife has provided me the ability to work closely with my medical colleagues and work longer term with patients,” he said. “I’ve been able to explore more teaching and research interests, and that is what makes HSL different. I couldn’t be happier working for such a great organization.”