Calamity Rose Ranch focuses on providing unique methods of mental health care | Local

MUSCATINE — When Kayla Carlsten decided to open her own practice to help people with their mental health, she wanted to do things differently.

Nearly a year later, Carlsten’s strategies are working well, according to her growing number of patients, she said.

Carlsten, a psychiatric nurse practitioner for 10 years, opened Calamity Rose Ranch on the north side of her farm, 1612 Taylor Ave., Muscatine, last May. She assesses, diagnoses and treats her patient’s mental health needs.

“When I first started, my goal was to have 40 patients,” Carlsten said. “I’ve since quadrupled that, so it’s been eye-opening on the need of mental health services in Iowa and Muscatine specifically.”

Carlsten previously worked in the Alzheimer’s unit at Lutheran Homes, as a psych nurse in emergency rooms and intensive care units.

After working in cities like Des Moines for so long, Carlsten realized how under-served rural communities are. She returned to her hometown of Muscatine to open Calamity Rose Ranch to serve that need.

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One of her unique services is animal-assisted therapy. Her patients can interact with rabbits, cats and goats as they talk about their mental health.

“Animals have always been something I’ve had a love for. To be able to pet an animal for about 15 minutes releases anxiety, and some people may not have that option where they live,” she said. “So instead they can come to my office and just hang out with an animal.”

She also offers free, open-for-anyone “goat yoga,” three times a week.

“We have baby goats running around, and during goat yoga they may jump on your back or you may cuddle them for a while. Fifteen minutes of petting or playing with an animal really can reduce stress in people, so just adding that option to yoga for me is a lot more fun.”

Her practice’s main goal, however, is to be there for those in crisis. Carlsten will offer a walk-in clinic every other Thursday, beginning March 31.

“The benefit of the walk-in clinic is to work to prevent ER visits for mental health, taking some of that burden off our local ER,” Carlsten said, having the experience to know that emergency rooms can’t always handle patients who are in crisis in a timely manner. With this clinic, she said that she hopes to see 20 patients throughout the walk-in period, which takes place throughout the day (9 am to 4 pm).

“(The walk-in appointments) would be shorter appointments, but it would be enough to follow up with my other patients if they’re having an emergency or to help a patient who just couldn’t get an appointment otherwise,” she said . “In some cases for some psych providers, it could be a two- to three-month wait to schedule an appointment, but keeping every other Thursday open allows for people to just walk in and be seen. They may have to still wait a little bit, but at least they’re not waiting months.”

Carlsten said she hoped to eventually expand her practice to create a wellness center for her community.

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