In December, NorthShore Health Centers welcomed veteran psychiatrist Belal Hegazy, M.D., onto their staff, enabling the health system to now offer a fully integrated in-house healthcare approach thanks to Hegazy’s expertise in mental health and addiction.
“When our primary and family care physicians or social workers identify mental or behavioral health concerns with our patients, I respond to their referrals,” he said. “I’m the first psychiatrist they’ve brought on board, so we can practice integrated medicine, taking care of our patients’ mind, body, and soul under one roof.”
As a psychiatrist, Hegazy understands patients from a different perspective, hearing the more in-depth stories and situations that aren’t often shared with other providers in a typical healthcare setting. It was those stories that first pulled him into mental health as a profession.
“When I first got into medical school, I didn’t even think about mental health as a specialty,” Hegazy said. “Down the road, I grew up and realized that I was more interested in listening to the patients, hearing their stories, and trying to understand them better. Little by little, that pulled me into psychiatry.”
Hegazy follows a simple philosophy: the better he knows his patients, the better he can help them.
“You have to understand what’s going on behind the scenes,” he said. “There’s more to their situation than just their symptoms. There are multiple dimensions, and I always say those dimensions contribute a lot to what brought them to ask for help. Understanding the whole perspective helps me, help them.”
He sees every relationship with a patient as collaborative.
“You have to understand that a patient is not exactly like you,” Hegazy said. “You can’t just use authority or tell them what to do, you have to work with them and find a middle ground. You need to get them involved in the process.”
While he is still fairly new to NorthShore, Hegazy said he is thrilled at how they are embracing integrated healthcare.
“Integrated care is my core belief,” he said. “I’m so excited by what I found here at NorthShore and that I can provide these programs for treating addiction and psychiatric needs.”
He was also drawn in by NorthShore’s mission of providing quality healthcare to everybody, regardless of their financial status, demographics, or anything else.
“It really impressed me, and it’s one of the main reasons I chose NorthShore,” he said. “In my past experience, there were so many people who would reach out wanting mental health service that simply couldn’t get it. Having NorthShore bring me aboard to provide more and more to their patient population really means a lot to me.”
Learn more about NorthShore Health Centers at northshorehealth.org.