OLEAN — Olean General Hospital is moving forward with construction of a new geriatric psychiatric unit.
Approved last year by the New York State Department of Health, and in October by the New York State Office of Mental Health, construction will begin at the hospital next month of an inpatient geriatric psychiatric unit for patients typically 65 and older.
An opening is targeted for July.
The geriatric psychiatric program will provide crisis stabilization, multidimensional and diagnostic evaluation and short term treatment that typically ranges from 10-12 days. There is no similar unit within 100 miles of Olean. However, psychiatric care for the elderly is an increasingly needed service.
“The development of our geriatric psychiatric unit is consistent with OGH’s mission of responding to the unmet healthcare needs in our region,” said Jeff Zewe, senior vice president and chief operating officer, Upper Allegheny Health System, OGH and Bradford Regional Medical Center. “This needed service is not currently available in our region.”
The geriatric psychiatric unit will not only provide ongoing medical care but will include care for acute psychiatric symptoms, including depressive disorders, bipolar and related disorders, schizophrenia, anxiety, neurocognitive disorders and secondary substance use disorders.
The unit will be located in a separate location from the hospital’s current behavioral health unit, which treats patients 18 years and older.
Zewe said there is no other distinct and separate geriatric psychiatric unit in the region. However, psychiatric care for the elderly is an increasingly needed service.
“Geriatric psychiatric service is an important program for our seniors not offered anywhere else in the region,” Zewe said. “In addition to dealing with chronic medical conditions, the elderly often are coping with the loss of a spouse, children moving away, declining physical function, chronic pain, and other issues that can lead to major depression.”
He added that those types of situations can sometimes cause the elderly to become a danger to themselves or others and even lose the will to live.
“Our unit will offer treatment that cannot always be adequately delivered on a typical adult psychiatric unit, medical unit or nursing home, becoming the beacon of hope and light for people who need help,” Zewe said.
OGH has partnered with Signet Health which has provided geriatric psychiatric services since 1999.
In order to create space for the geropsychiatric unit, OGH will move other services into space occupied by the hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation area. That service will be consolidated with Upbeat, the cardiac rehabilitation service on the Bradford Regional Medical Center Campus, on Dec. 23.
“It’s a ‘make sense’ move, considering that the cardiac rehabilitation program at OGH is underutilized and is in a small space,” said Dennis McCarthy, hospital spokesperson. “On the other hand, the cardiac rehabilitation space at BRMC is part of the Upbeat wellness service, and offers substantially larger space, newer equipment, longer hours, capacity for more patients and supervision by two exercise physiologists.”