GREENVILLE — Wayne HealthCare Senior Behavioral Health opened this month.
Program Director RN Tonya Soete said the community will greatly benefit from the service. Soete, is working on her PhD in nursing, in order to give the program and the community her very best.
“Mental health is necessary all of the world, even in small rural communities like this,” she said.
“I am very well aware of this county, how close-knit it is and how we take care of our own – which is wonderful. That is why this unit is here.”
Senior Behavioral Health (SBH) is a 12-bed psychiatric unit. It offers 12-14 days of inpatient services, to patients around 65 and older with the following conditions: cognitive impairment, behavioral problems, increased forgetfulness or confusion, change in sleeping patterns/insomnia and delusions and or hallucinations.
In addition, it provides 24-hour treatment with structured and supportive surroundings and staff which includes: a licensed psychiatrist, medical physicians, program director, registered nurses, nursing assistants, recreational therapists, community educators, social workers, physical therapists and occupational therapists and dietitians.
Referrals are accepted 24 hours a day for treatment, including: intensive nursing services, therapeutic group and individual activities, assistance with coping mechanisms and problem solving abilities, medication management and family support.
If a potential patient fits into the criteria for admission to SBH, a preliminary primary psychological diagnosis is given by the psychiatrist, based on information received. The patients’ medical doctors see them within 24 hours to give a complete physical. If they have a primary medical condition, such as diabetes or hypertension, that condition is treated first in the hospital. Some medical conditions can seem like mental conditions, such as delirium. Those have to be out-ruled first, Soete said.
“We always want to treat the medical first, so we are not overlooking something” she said. “One of the really good benefits about having a mental health unit in the hospital, is it gives the patient access to the hospital’s medical care.”
At SBH, their symptoms are assessed by a psychiatrist. Changes in behavior are the identifiers. They might be depressed, and they no longer want to eat or sleep, they may cry a lot or are no longer social. SBH treats depression.
“The patient will get programming and grief counseling, based on the individual treatment plan to progress and get better,” Soete said.
If a patient has dementia with behaviors, such as getting anxious or upset, having panic attacks or yelling, SBH is the appropriate place for that.
“Even with a disease like that, you can live within those indicators to have the maximum healthy life,” Soete said.
Sometimes patients have been on medications for a long time that are no longer working. SBH assesses that and based on the outcome, may provide new medication or different doses.
“This is not to slow people down, “ she said. “We want to help them have internal peace, and medications can help with that and lessen their agitation. We go low and slow, starting off with the lowest dose. Everyone reacts differently to medications that we monitor 24/7.”
While her job is rewarding in many aspects, something Soete loves the most about her job is that she is an educator.
“I love to take care of these patients and educate their families,” she said. “I have this knowledge that I have gained in these last 30 years. If I don’t share that with caregivers who are going to make a difference in this world, then I am not doing what I am supposed to do. I am using it now, to help and mold some of the staff and produce a really great product, which is a mental health unit in this community.”
Wayne HealthCare Senior Behavioral Health is located at 835 Sweitzer St, in Greenville.
Admissions and referrals are accepted 24 hours a day, by calling 937-547-7430.