WMC Opens Geriatric Behavioral Medicine Center
Weirton Medical Center (WMC) has opened a new 18-bed inpatient unit for the care and treatment of older adults with behavioral health problems.
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The Geriatric Behavioral Medicine Center specializes in providing inpatient care for adults age 65 and older who are experiencing psychiatric problems including major depression, anxiety disorders, early onset Alzheimer’s, mood disorders, adjustment disorders, and uncontrolled anger, among other conditions.
WMC will also open a Geriatric Structured Outpatient Program (SOP) in the near future to provide behavioral medicine services for seniors not requiring 24-hour inpatient care.
With assistance from contract management firm Diamond Healthcare, WMC developed the unit to handle the growing number of seniors in the community with significant behavioral medicine problems.
“WMC is committed to providing older adults with the specialized psychiatric care they need in a safe and compassionate environment. Our two new programs will provide older adults with both inpatient and outpatient options for care. We are very excited to bring these much needed services to the community,” said Charles M. O’Brien, Jr., WMC’s president and chief executive officer.
Dr. Navdeep Purewal is the inpatient unit medical director. The unit is staffed with trained geropsychiatric professionals who are skilled in working with this population.
According to Program Director Catherine Willner, geriatric behavioral medicine is a unique and growing field that recognizes the mental and emotional problems that accompany aging. “The 65-plus psychiatric patient has very different needs than the younger adult patient,” Catherine explained.
“Geropsychiatric patients generally have co-morbid medical problems and may experience age-related adjustment or grief and loss difficulties. Patients may be depressed due to the loss of a spouse or close friends. Others may find their psychiatric difficulties are resulting in a loss of independence, and they must become dependent on others for help with normal activities of daily life. Patients who are in the early stages of an organic brain disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer’s often are bewildered by the emotional and behavioral changes taking place, and don’t know where to turn for help,” she said.
“The program will consist of thorough clinical assessments, an individualized treatment program, and a discharge plan which will create a smoother transition from hospital to home. Patients and family members will play an active role in treatment planning in our program, so that we are better able to meet each patient’s treatment goals.”
“Our goal is to prevent a reoccurrence of an acute episode of psychiatric illness, and give each patient the coping skills and tools they need to lead happier and more productive lives. To support this goal, many of our inpatients will transition to the SOP to provide them with additional support and assistance while at home or in a nursing care facility,” she added.
For more information, call Catherine Willner at 304-797-6169.