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Mental health center for seniors to open in Leesburg

LEESBURG – The Leesburg and Villages Regional hospitals will be opening a mental health center for seniors on July 1.

“There is a huge need in the community,” said Christopher Adams, the program director of Leesburg Regional Medical Center’s Senior Behavioral Health Center.

“One out of every four people has some kind of issue,” he said.

The program is aimed at people 65 and older with major mental health problems, like severe depression and bipolar disorder. The program will take in so-called Baker Act patients, people who must be hospitalized briefly because they are a danger to themselves or others.

The hospital has spent $3 million to renovate an acute medical rehabilitation center on the North Campus on North Boulevard. That facility has moved to The Villages. At one time the second-floor facility housed Ohme Rehab.

Adams said he is trying to make it as “homey” as possible, with different colored bedspreads and curtains.

The goal is to never use restraints, but the 21-bed facility will be locked down and is loaded with safety features. Some rooms are private, others semi-private.

The average stay will be about 12 days, but it sometimes takes awhile to find the “right recipe” of medications, said Adams, a registered nurse who has worked in psychiatric care for more than 20 years.

One frequent problem is that “people get to feeling better and stop taking their medicine,” Adams said. Often, it takes longer to get the person back on track, and then it may not be at the same level as before.

Patients won’t just be medicated at the facility, Adams said. They will be involved in therapies and recreation, too.

Patients don’t just come with mental health issues, Adams pointed out. They may have medical conditions, like hypertension, diabetes, the risk of falling or committing suicide. They might also have been self-medicating, abusing drugs and alcohol.

“I anticipate we’ll be busy immediately,” he said, but the facility won’t open with full capacity.

He is still looking for personnel. The staff will include a psychiatrist; a psychiatric nurse; a recreation director, whose job description will include occupational therapy; and a social worker.

Article source: http://www.dailycommercial.com/news/20170610/mental-health-center-for-seniors-to-open-in-leesburg

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