Fulton County Health Center has announced the reorganization of the adult behavioral health inpatient unit into a geriatric unit beginning in late August. The new 10 bed program will be dedicated to those 65 years of age and older.
The geriatric unit will also offer partial hospitalization treatment in addition to the inpatient service. The partial program will allow daytime treatment that is geriatric focused for those individuals not needing inpatient care but needing more intensive treatment than traditional outpatient can offer.
The new unit will take patients 65 and older who have severe depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other mental illnesses. In addition the unit will also be able to treat geriatric patients with mild dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, in cases where a diagnosis of dementia brings on depression or other severe mental health issues.
The current adult inpatient unit will continue to treat inpatients through August 15th with an exact date of accepting new patients to be announced later in July. The Adult Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization program will continue to accept new patients for outpatient care and remain after the transition.
Adult geriatric mental health needs continue to grow across the country. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, white males age 85 and older consistently have the highest suicide rate than any other age and ethnic group.
“Geriatric behavioral health treatment is a specialized service.” states Patti Finn, CEO at Fulton County Health Center, “Converting our unit into a dedicated geriatric behavioral health unit allows our staff to be very focused on their special needs.”
Older patients have emotional, physical, psychological and social issues that are different from those of adolescents and adults. Many are retired, may be dealing with grief issues after the loss of their spouses or other losses. Some are struggling with serious health problems limiting their quality of life. Others may struggle with overwhelming sadness and hopelessness.
Adult outpatient treatment and partial hospitalization will continue at Fulton County Health Center. “We will continue to offer the full range of outpatient care for the adult population we have always offered.” states Finn. ‘The only thing changing is that we will no longer offer inpatient psychiatric care for adults under 65.”
Closing the adult behavioral health unit was a very difficult decision. “The adult unit has struggled at times to maintain a census making it impossible to run the unit on a profit. In addition, the current unit structure also prevented us from being able to take special geriatric needs patients,” said Finn. “By creating a dedicated geriatric unit we will be able to treat a large segment of the population we could not serve before.”
To make the geriatric unit a success, FCHC has partnered with Liberty Healthcare who specializes in opening and managing geriatric behavioral health programs across the country. Liberty Healthcare will assist in training staff and developing the overall program to meet the needs of the geriatric patient.