Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New psychiatric hospital fills local services gap

Written By: Dorothy Schneider :: Journal and Courier :: January 31, 2012

A new hospital facility opening today in Lafayette will help plug holes in the need for local psychiatric and substance abuse treatment.

Sycamore Springs, located at 833 Park East Blvd. on the east side of the city, will offer inpatient, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs as well. The hospital will help serve local residents, adults and seniors, who have to seek treatment for substance abuse and mental health problems in Indianapolis, Crawfordsville or Lebanon.

"There is no such unit in the community at this point," said Nizar El-Khalili, a board-certified psychiatrist who will serve as the medical director at Sycamore Springs. "These are needed services."

Mental health advocates have decried the poor availability of services in Greater Lafayette for years. Leaders of psychiatric facilities have cited problems ranging from low Medicaid reimbursement rates, shifting state funding and a shortage of psychiatrists to staff the facilities.

Of the 48 beds being offered at the new facility, half will be available for geriatric mental health treatment and half will be for other adult substance abuse and psychiatric services. The building is laid out in two wings and also has a theater area that will be available for community education programs along with offering inpatient entertainment options, said Keily Mohler, director of business development at Sycamore Springs, a Louisville, Ky.-based company.

"We offer everything here at one hospital: inpatient and outpatient services all under one umbrella," Mohler said.

Patients can be hospitalized at the facility for up to 30 days, depending on the combination of services they receive. The goal of treatments offered there is to stabilize patients and adjust medications so that they can return to their former living environment.

"This will definitely be meeting some of the unmet needs here as well as providing more choices to people in need of services, particularly for substance abuse services," said Jennifer Flora, executive director with Mental Health America of Tippecanoe County.

Flora said the need for senior mental health services has been great for many years, given the aging population and changes in the family structure that often leave the elderly with less of a support network.

Many of the area's extended care facilities and nursing homes are not adequately staffed to manage patients with digressing Alzheimer's disease or psychosis, El-Khalili said. Having served as a consultant at Indiana Veterans' Home for 16 years, El-Khalili said there will be immediate benefits seen from not having to send patients like the ones there to out-of-town facilities for stabilization.

The mix of services offered at Sycamore Springs will complement other community offerings, such as the outpatient work done by Alpine Clinic -- where El-Khalili is on staff.

"This will cover a major piece" of the puzzle, he said. "We will have a lot of coordination going into providing the appropriate care."

Click here for a photo tour of the facility.

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