April 23, 2015

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center opens new geriatric psychiatry unit

To continue meeting the community's mental health needs, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center recently opened a new 16-bed dedicated geriatric psychiatry unit. The new unit and addition of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) as a treatment expands the hospital’s mental health services, which also includes a psychiatric emergency department and addiction services.

“St. Vincent Charity Medical Center has long been a leader in the care of those with mental illness,” said David F. Perse, M.D., president and CEO of St. Vincent Charity. “These additional services will round out our offerings for those adults on any end of the behavioral health spectrum.”

St. Vincent Charity has cared for older adult patients (age 55 and over) on a unit that is combined with younger adults. However, the needs of those populations are distinct, according to Boris Royak, M.D., medical director of geriatric psychiatry at St. Vincent. “A large number of patients in this new unit will have some dementia, but they may also have underlying medical conditions,” said Dr. Royak. “Having a dedicated unit provides a safe level of care for those patients with a greater burden of medical conditions.”

Like other populations, older adults can experience co-occurring psychiatric and medical illnesses. Studies have found that approximately 15 percent of older adults living in the community have symptoms of depression with higher rates occurring in medical settings.

This $1.5 million expansion, $1 million of which was funded through donors, addresses a recognized community need for additional behavioral health service capacity. It expands the total number of behavioral health beds (including chemical dependency) to 99. The new unit allows St. Vincent Charity to focus on service offerings, including medical, nursing, social work, and recreational and occupational therapy to help older patients improve their level of function.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System.

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