CLEARFIELD – Mental health care has never been more open and available. For individuals ages 55 and over, there is a plethora of mental health resources right in your own backyard.
The Bright Horizons Center at Penn Highlands has been operating since July of 2007. According to Sharon Goodman, behavioral health inpatient director, the program offers short-term inpatient and outpatient services.
Goodman said the Bright Horizons geropsychiatric inpatient unit is a 10-bed facility located on the second floor of Penn Highlands Clearfield. The center offers emotional and behavior support.
Goodman said the center can treat patients experiencing behavior problems associated with dementia; depression, fears and anxiety; suicidal thoughts or actions; acting out or other dangerous behaviors; compulsive disorders; as well as hallucinations and delusions.
The center will help treat patients who have been determined to be a danger to themselves or others.
Goodman said Bright Horizons inpatient unit is a short-term facility where patients typically stay for seven to 14 days. She said if needed, the stay can be extended, but the goal is to get the patient stabilized and released.
“We have a psychiatrist on staff who provides services four days a week,” Goodman said. “We also provide physical, occupational and speech therapy.
“It’s not a permanent placement, but we have a doctor and physician’s assistant available at all times to provide medical care as needed, and we can coordinate with other agencies for follow-up care.”
Goodman said if a patient themselves or their family feels they need help, they can talk to their primary care physician for a referral.
However, if there is an immediate need for assistance, the patient can be seen at the Emergency Room, or they can call the Crisis Helpline at 1-800-341-5040.
Once a patient is admitted, they will receive a physical and emotional assessment to development a treatment plan.
The individual will be assessed daily while they are at Bright Horizon and the staff will work up a plan to continue treatment once the patient is released.
Goodman said each patient will receive a notice of discharge 72 hours before they are released.
The services provided include, but are not limited to psychiatric assessment and stabilization; medication, evaluation and management; multidisciplinary treatment planning; coordination of care with other providers; individual, group, and family assessments; exercise, nutrition and wellness education; leisure and recreational therapeutic activities; daily comprehensive physical and emotional assessment; case management and discharge planning as well as on-site, face-to-face assessments.
She said the inpatient services are covered by most insurance companies, as well as by Medicare, but there are social workers available to assist with any costs that may not be covered.
“We’ve been averaging about eight patients per day,” Goodman said. “We’ve had a lot of success with the program and very few patients have needed to be re-admitted. It’s a safe, quiet environment with activities, crafts, music, movies and especially visiting hours.”
Goodman said the program has extended visiting hours to allow families to meet with the staff to discuss the patients’ care.
Goodman said if a family member believes someone may need help, it’s important to act right away.
“Sometimes, they wait too long before getting help,” Goodman said. “The problem with dementia is that the patient can deteriorate very rapidly. A lot of people say the patient was absolutely fine just a week or so ago.”
Goodman said it’s important for families to recognize the signs, even if it’s painful to realize a loved one needs help. She said some warning signs can include aggressive behavior; withdrawing from family or social activities; weight loss; forgetfulness, such as leaving the stove or water on; forgetting to pay bills; a change in hygiene or dress; changes in sleeping habits, particularly staying awake at night; forgetting medication.
Goodman said watching a loved one decline can be hard on families and stressed that support groups are available for the families as well as for the patient.
“This can be very hard for the patient, but sometimes, it’s even more difficult for the family. There are options available and they’re right here in Clearfield,” Goodman said. “You don’t have to travel out of the area to get these services.”