MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark.: The discussion of “mental health” seems to be a regular topic in the news these days.
It seems to come up regularly following an incident where an alleged lone shooter brings a weapon to their workplace, or in a more positive light, such as when a celebrity breaks their silence to discuss the personal medical struggles they have undergone.
Author Ken Kesey wrote “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” in 1962, and the movie starring Jack Nicholson in 1975 is what people still most often think about when they discuss mental facilities – a white, sterile, institution where people are locked up.
While it’s true that the U.S. is struggling overall to keep up with the growing need for in-patient facilities across the country, Baxter Regional Medical Center recently opened its own 16-bed adult behavioral health center to meet the needs of the community.
According to Jodi Leeker, program director at BRMC, the Hensley Senior Behavior Health Center at BRMC has been around for years, serving members of the 55 and older population, but there hadn’t been any local options for those 18 to 54.
A licensed clinical social worker, Leeker has seen the need grow in the 18 years she has been with BRMC.
“We had been watching the patients come through our emergency room and saw that there was a need,” Leeker said.
Like any other organ in the body, the brain can get sick and that anyone can find themselves in need of help from time to time.
“We serve our neighbors, friends, family members,” Leeker said. “Mental health touches everyone; mental health doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can face a crisis.”
Before the unit opened on April 4, young adults facing a crisis such as intense depression, anxiety, a bipolar episode, or suicidal thoughts had no other option than go to facilities in Batesville, Little Rock, Fayetteville or West Plains, Missouri.
“It’s been frustrating when a patient is in crisis to send them three hours away from their local support system to get help,” Leeker said.
Patients will go through medication management, and have opportunities for individual, group and family therapy when appropriate. Other programs are offered to individuals so they learn healthy coping skills so they can regain stability.
Nursing Director Crystal Brightwell has been busy interviewing, hiring and training staff to prepare them to serve a younger population, the Baxter Bulletin reported.
Brightwell said the average patient will stay in the state-of-the-art unit for three to five days and most insurance plans are accepted.
During their stay, patients will have access to primary-care physicians, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and social workers that will address both medical and mental issues and help the individual get back on track.
Dr. Tom Foster serves at the unit’s medical director and the behavioral clinical psychiatrist. He has been with BMRC for more than four years and has been with the Hensley Senior Behavior Health Center in that time. Dr. Daniel Goodwin serves as the medical physician.
The unit, located on the third floor of BRMC, has a calming color scheme and layout of a high-end day spa. The whole floor was designed with health and safety in mind, from the individual rooms with artist-painted affirmations on the walls, to the rounded corners on the walls and window frames.
Like other patients in BRMC, those in the adult behavioral health center have a menu to select their meals from and nicely appointed day room where they can stretch out on recliners, watch television and relax.
From the time an individual is admitted, either through a referral, self-admission, or mandatory hold through the emergency room, the staff works to put together a discharge plan for them. Leeker said the staff will set up out-patient therapy and follow ups with the patient’s primary care physician if needed. AP