Staff Spotlight: Lou Velazquez, Medical Director
Lou Velazquez, Medical Director
Counseling & Psychiatry
Dr. Louis Velazquez, Medical Director for ServiceNet’s outpatient clinics, loves the narrative of Psychiatry. “This is the field where medicine meets the humanities,” he said, reflecting on one of the reasons he became a psychiatrist in the first place. “I’ve always been interested in people’s stories, and in helping them to see how those stories reflect their own strengths and potential.”
Lou’s story began in Brooklyn, where he grew up in a neighborhood in which he remembers everyone was busy, in a rush, and longing to succeed. His parents, who had been born in Puerto Rico, worked hard to put their children through Catholic school and give them opportunities to move out and up. After leaving home to complete his undergraduate studies at Yale and medical school at the University of Michigan, Lou came back to New York to do his Psychiatric residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, followed by a fellowship in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia.
Always idealistic, and wanting to change the world, Lou then headed north to work in Auburn and Lewiston, Maine. “My family and I were there for six years, and we met some remarkable people during that time, including many Native Americans,” he recalled. “Seeking greater proximity to family, we then moved closer to Boston and I worked as a child psychiatrist with two community clinics associated with Brigham & Women’s Hospital and the North Shore Children’s Hospital in Salem. And then 911 happened. It took me hours to drive home from Boston that day. Commuter life in a large American city was difficult, so we took a sojourn to the Southwest and moved to Albuquerque for three years. Our kids learned to ride horses and to ski powder. It was a great adventure for us as a family—far away from everything that was familiar.”
Moving back to Massachusetts in 2007, this time settling in the Pioneer Valley, Lou worked in medical leadership roles with Brightside for Families and Children, CHD, CSO, and Baystate Wing Memorial Hospital before joining ServiceNet in July 2018. Never one to sit still, and attracted by ServiceNet’s entrepreneurial spirit, he has already initiated a brand new program: NeuroStar Advanced TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) therapy in the Northampton clinic. ServiceNet is the first community mental health agency in western Mass to offer this service on-site. Lou has also been further developing a tele-Psychiatry program for ServiceNet, which will soon link patients in the clinics to psychiatrists via privacy protected video-conferencing. “People have responded well to having direct access to their doctor without needing to travel far from home,” he explained. “And I’m glad to be part of expanding our services in these ways, using technology to enhance the important narrative connection between doctor and patient.”