Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Baptist Geropsychiatric Program Relocates, Expands and Focuses on Team Approach to Treatment

Baptist Geropsychiatric Program Relocates, Expands and Focuses on Team Approach to Treatment

Baptist moves its Geropsychiatric Program to Baptist Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. The program will expand to incorporate 22 inpatient beds as well.

(PRWEB) March 27, 2004

For older people suffering from depression, anxiety, grief, hallucinations or other problems associated with mental illness, Baptist Behavioral Health Services has an inpatient Geropsychiatric Program designed to address specific needs for senior adults.

According to Psychiatrist Dr. William Cook, Jr., Baptist treats the elderly with clinical depression, anxiety and psychiatric symptoms as a result of some type of dementia. Alzheimer's disease is one of many types of dementia, which is an age-related, and irreversible brain disorder that occurs gradually and results in memory loss, behavior and personality changes, and a decline in thinking abilities.

"Psychiatric symptoms evolve as a result of the decline of their physical health, independence and the loss of spouses, relatives or friends," said Baptist Geropsychiatric Program Medical Director Dr. Cook. "The most common problem is psychotic disorders which impair a person's ability to think clearly, respond emotionally, communicate effectively, understand reality and behave appropriately."

Of the nearly 35 million Americans age 65 and older, an estimated 2 million have a depressive illness and another 5 million may have "subsyndromal depression," or depressive symptoms that fall short of meeting full diagnostic criteria for a disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Older Americans are disproportionately likely to die by suicide. Comprising only 13 percent of the U. S. population, individuals age 65 and older accounted for 18 percent of all suicide deaths in 2000.

"The road to healing the elderly can be long," Dr. Cook said. "What makes our program unique is the team of health care professionals committed to healing them. We treat the patient and counsel the family."

Located in Jackson, Miss., the Baptist Geropsychiatric Program moved from the Gilfoy Building to 5A of Baptist Medical Center in December 2003 and is in the process of expanding the program to 22 inpatient beds specializing in psychiatric care for the elderly.

"This made a significant impact on the patient and staff. We have all private rooms and plenty of space for our patients. It's bright and offers a therapeutic environment with immediate access to all of the hospital's resources and emergency care if needed," Dr. Cook added.

Baptist's program provides patients with inpatient treatment seven days a week. Patients see a psychiatrist on a daily basis; once a week, family members are invited to attend a multi-disciplinary meeting to plan and evaluate treatment. Occupational and physical therapy are also provided on a consultation basis. Each patient is given a medical evaluation upon admission into this medically supervised program. The patient's personal physician can follow the patient medically during his or her stay on the unit.

Family members have weekly meetings with the multidisciplinary treatment team on the geropsychiatric unit. Referrals are made to dementia support groups in the area and counseling for family members if needed. The employees also provide psychiatric consultative services for the elderly in other parts of the hospital.

The geropsychiatric unit offers a follow-up psychiatric medication management clinic for those who have completed the inpatient program but still need assistance. A dedicated case coordinator can provide a free, confidential evaluation in the hospital, the patient's home, in a physician's office or in a nursing home.

For more information call the Baptist Health Line at 1-800-948-6262 or 948-6262.