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McLaren Bay Region launches inpatient geriatric psychiatry program

Published on Friday, April 05, 2019

McLaren Bay Region will soon launch an inpatient geriatric psychiatry program to better serve the special needs of senior adults with psychiatric illness. After a total renovation of the 3 West unit, it will open for patients Monday, April 15 and will mark the third major investment in the McLaren Bay Region behavioral health program in the past few years. 

“We’ve had an inpatient behavioral health unit for many years, but the needs of senior adults with mental health disorders vary greatly from younger generations,” said Bridget Cashin, Director of McLaren Bay Region Behavioral Health Services. “As our geriatric population grew, we noticed it was becoming harder to provide specialized care to each generation. There are a number of lifestyle differences between the general and geriatric populations, including more medical challenges.” 

The risk for depression is about four times higher in elderly generations than the general population, with about 15% of people aged 65+ experiencing severe depression. A number of factors contribute to this. Depression is a common side effect of many medications people take for common health issues, and the older a person is, the more likely they are to have experienced trauma, loss or isolation.

“In the past few years, we noticed more and more elderly people coming through our emergency department who required specialized psychiatric care,” said Jennifer Whyte, Program Manager of McLaren Bay Region Behavioral Health Services. “We’ve seen the number of patients on Medicare in our behavioral health unit climb to nearly 50%.”

The new program provides short term psychiatric care in a safe, efficient and compassionate manner. Patients and families are guided by a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary team with after-care services also provided.

“We want to help our patients stay as independent as possible while decreasing the risk of further decline,” said Emily Williams, Coordinator of McLaren Bay Region Behavioral Health Services. “This will be achieved with thorough assessment, individualized therapy, group therapy, and activity time. Our team will include a psychiatrist, social workers, psychiatric nurses, dieticians, and physical and occupational therapists to maximize each person’s abilities, comfort and functioning.”

Signs that a person may be a candidate for this program may include a diagnosis of depression, a loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy or difficulties with their daily activities.

“Our main goal is to provide treatment for these patients and families close to home,” said Whyte. “Though we have offered inpatient behavioral health treatment for years, people have had to leave their community to receive specialized psychiatric care for the elderly. This new unit will allow us to be here for the families and help them navigate the court system within their own community.”

An open house will be held to celebrate the new program on Wednesday, April 10th from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on the third floor of McLaren Bay Region. There will be a brief program at 4:00 p.m. followed by a ribbon cutting ceremony with tours of the unit to follow.

For more information on McLaren Bay Region’s behavioral health services, call (989) 894-3911.