The wing already contained 16 beds for adult behavioral health patients, but 16 new geriatric patient beds have been added with the completion of phase one of the expansion project.
HRMC CEO Rod Harkleroad said the expansion will not only help meet the needs in Haywood County but will also help serve surrounding counties.
“This new unit has 17 beds for patients 55 and older — that’s a growing population in this area that needs care,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 20 percent of people age 55 and older experience some type of mental health concern — the most common being anxiety, severe cognitive impairment and mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder.
The behavioral health unit provides a spectrum of psychiatric and medical care in an environment designed specifically to meet the safety needs for older adults requiring 24-hour hospital care. A multidisciplinary team of providers can conduct mental, cognitive and medical assessments in order to develop a customized treatment plan for patients.
Harkleroad added that the average stay for geriatric patients is 15 days and a majority of that time is spent just trying to get the patient back on track with a medication management plan. The goal is to stabilize the patient while in the hospital and help them determine safe and suitable living options upon leaving the hospital.
Harkleroad said the additional 7,000 square feet of space added to the wing, which cost $1.3 million, will also allow Haywood Regional to add more local jobs at the hospital. The expansion will mean adding two more behavioral health physicians and 12 full-time support positions immediately.
The unit will need to be staffed with psychiatrists, registered nurses, mental health technicians, counselors, a psychologist, an activities coordinator and licensed clinical social workers. Over the next several years, he said the expansion would lead to about 28 new jobs in the community.
Since acquiring the hospital in 2014, Duke LifePoint has spent $17 million to make capital improvements at HRMC. That puts Duke LifePoint closer to meeting its promise to invest $36 million in HRMC over eight years.
“I’m proud of what we’re doing. Were not a team to settle for average — we want to be great,” Harkleroad said.
The behavioral health unit will accept acute-care referrals from doctors, emergency rooms, long-term care facilities and mental health professionals. For more information, call 828.452.8655.
Program services available at Haywood Regional Medical Center’s Senior Behavioral Health Unit:
• 24-hour monitoring and supervision
• Diagnostic services
• Evaluation and treatment
• Medication evaluation
• Dietary evaluation
• Medical treatment
• Group counseling
• Individual counseling
• Inpatient treatment
• Physical and occupational rehabilitation
• Recreational therapy
• Discharge planning
• Follow up services