By Bud Stephens
Lehigh Regional Medical Center (LRMC), located at 1500 Lee Blvd in Lehigh Acres will soon be providing healthcare services for one of the most under-served populations in Southwest Florida. On December 2nd of this year, Lehigh Regional will officially open a 35 bed inpatient behavioral health facility at its Lehigh Acres location.
According to Gary Bell, CEO of LRMC, the behavioral health unit is designed to treat patients ages 55 and above for almost every kind of mental and behavioral health issue. According to Mr. Bell, one of the most prevalent mental health issues facing today’s aging population is clinical depression.
“Many retirees leave home towns in the northern states where they have been active members of their local communities. They leave behind family members, friends and groups so that they can enjoy the good life here in Southwest Florida. However, many find themselves unprepared for the initial loneliness and feelings of isolation that set in before they are able to build for themselves a new circle of friends.” Mr. Bell goes on to say that some of those retirees have difficulty recovering from this loneliness and soon find themselves battling the symptoms of clinical depression which include, sleeplessness, social withdrawal and unprovoked irritation. Many times, this depression leads to an emotional downward spiral which exacerbates the symptoms.
Bell goes on to say that some relatively simple changes in a depressed person’s behavior can contribute greatly to pull that person out of a depressive state. He says, “For instance, one of the simple but profound changes that our staff will implement is to see that no one eats alone. A common dining setting where people interact over a meal may not seem like much but it has proved to be vital in restoring a person’s sense of self-worth and in that person seeing him/herself as contributing to the community in which they live.” He also mentions that each patient will engage in 35 hours of group therapy per week.
Another facet of the inpatient setting is the ability to address “comorbidities” which are physical problems that exist in a person’s life outside their behavioral health problems. Illnesses such as hyper-tension, high or low blood sugar and other chronic physical maladies can be monitored and treated while a person is in inpatient behavioral therapy, lessening that person’s likelihood of ignoring physical issues which can intensify the symptoms of their behavioral issues.
Finally, it should be pointed out that depression is one of many behavioral health issues that will be successfully treated at Lehigh Regional’s Behavioral Health Unit. According to Mr. Bell, “The fact that ours is an inpatient facility staffed with licensed and certified behavioral health professionals opens our doors to a broad range of treatment scenarios.”
When we consider America’s aging population that faces new health and emotional challenges each day, Lehigh Regional Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Inpatient Uni arrives on the scene at just the right time. For more information, please contact Jackie Arsenault at 239-368-4479.