What's New

Senior Focused Care

Care center fills void

By KALEY Connor

Hays Daily News
May 1, 2011


Hays Medical Center this summer will open a new in-patient psychiatric facility at the Hadley Center, 205 E. Seventh. The facility will cater to a specific group of patients -- those above the age of 65.

The regional need for such a facility is evident within the hospital's four walls on a daily basis, said Chief Nursing Officer Terry Siek.

"We know that we have sometimes up to five patients a day within our facility that need these services," he said.

Geriatric patients struggling with mental illnesses such as depression must travel nearly 100 miles for in-patient services. The nearest facilities are located in Abilene and Kinsley, and most area units have waiting lists, Siek said.

The Hays Med Senior-Focused Care unit is scheduled to open July 1, though some patients might be admitted sooner. The 15-bed facility will be located on the third floor of the Hadley Center's north wing, which faces Eighth Street.

Construction is continuing on the project and is expected to be finished by the end of May.

The facility will be Medicare-based, but private insurance also will be welcome for patients 65 and older. Patients will be admitted if they pose a threat to others or themselves, or if they are unable to care for themselves, Siek said.

The new facility is expected to add 21 full-time equivalent positions. The staff also will include social workers, an activities coordinator, nurses and aides.

The psychiatrist will be Dr. James Van Doren, a Hays native who previously worked at KVC Wheatland Psychiatric Hospital. Out-patient psychiatric services also are available for all ages through Hays Med Psych Associates. Van Doren's office will be located near the inpatient facility.

While mental illness does not necessarily become more prevalent as people age, many patients in this age group struggle with "phase of life" issues, he said.

"A lot of our patients will be patients that have struggled with severe mental illness or moderate forms of mental illness through their lifespan," Van Doren said. "But there's also going to be probably a lot of patients that don't necessarily have a substantial psychiatric history."

Many of those patients could be prone to delirium, a condition in which they become disoriented and confused, because of stress or underlying health issues, he said. The unit, however, will not be specifically geared towards treating Alzheimer's disease.

Studies also suggest outcomes are better for stroke and heart attack victims who are treated for depression, he said.

The average length of stay will be between eight and 10 days. Several treatment methods will be available, including various types of therapy, medication and in some cases, electroconvulsive therapy. That treatment only will be used if other methods are not effective, Van Doren said.

Physical health will be monitored, and patients will receive both a psychiatric evaluation and a medical work-up.

The goal is to equip the patients for success after they leave the facility, said Marcie Coffman, the facility's interim director.

"Activities will include recreational and coping skills groups so that we can help prepare them for when they leave the hospital," she said. "And they'll have additional methods of coping with the stresses that they face."