BY JACLYN ROSE –
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and Polk County is blessed to have the Senior Behavioral Unit at Mena Regional Health Systems (MRHS) to assist in caring for the mental health of the older generations.
Almost 20 years ago, on December 12, 1994, the Senior Behavioral Unit of MRHS saw its first patient; in the years following they have seen at least 3,500 patients. With the next closest Arkansas unit of this kind over 80 miles away, MRHS pulls from more than Polk County. From June 1, 2013 to today they have seen patients from Garland, Howard, Little River, Montgomery, Pike, Scott, and Sevier Counties in Arkansas and McCurtain and Pittsburg Counties in Oklahoma. They are a great asset to local and surrounding communities.
The Senior Behavioral Unit of MRHS is comprised of seven full time RNs and twelve part time RNs and LPNs. There is also an Activity Therapist and Social Workers on staff. The unit is managed by Medical Director Dr. Terrell Bishop, Director Sue Cavner, and Nurse Manager Doris Hastey. According to Cavner, “our Senior Behavior Unit Team is one of the most compassionate and caring groups of medical professionals ever placed together; we are dedicated to ‘returning the older adult to emotional wellness.’”
While all patients must be approved by the psychiatrist, any concerned citizen can refer someone to the unit. However, only those individuals who have a potential for responding to and benefiting from short-term treatment will be admitted. There are many warning signs to watch for among them: confused thinking, prolong depression, excessive fears, social withdrawal, delusions or hallucinations, denial of obvious problems, and substance abuse.
The Senior Behavioral Unit of MRHS is a short-term inpatient program for adults age 55 and over who are experiencing behavioral or emotional problems. While they treat a wide variety of mental illnesses, dementia is the greatest focus, with many of their patients suffering from one form of this disease.
Due to many changes occurring in adults late in life, such as retirement, the death of a loved one, physical illness, and limited income, many psychological issues appear later in life. The Senior Behavioral Unit of MRHS will create an individualized treatment program, working with physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, geriatric specialized physicians, social workers and activity therapists to assist each patient in returning to the highest level of mental health available.
Mental health is integral to overall health. When a person has good mental health, they deal better with what comes there way. Those with a lower level of mental health can make even day-to-day life overwhelming. Poor mental health can significantly harm a person’s physical health. By example, research has shown that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. It also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed could possibly have a higher risk of physical illness.
If you feel yourself or someone you love could benefit from the Senior Behavioral Unit of MRHS please call 479-394-7400. Early intervention may prevent unnecessary suffering.