St. Mary’s Addiction Services Boosted by Relocated, Expanded Inpatient Unit – The Daily Gazette
AMSTERDAM — Patients seeking treatment for addiction are often at a low point in their lives, making it vital the relocation of St. Mary’s Healthcare’s Chemical Dependency Inpatient Services Unit to a brand new space with easy access to related services, according to Kayla Egan, Director. behavioral health.
“People come here because they want to recover,” Egan said. “We know how incredibly important this service is to the people who walk through that door every day.”
The 14-bed chemical dependency unit on the second floor of the Memorial Building on Route 30 in the city of Amsterdam opened on April 1. Previous program space at the Guy Park Avenue main campus had been limited to serving up to 10 patients during the pandemic.
Renovations were undertaken last year to create the new unit. The spring move-in was timed to coincide with the end of inpatient treatment whenever possible.
The unit refreshed with modern equipment and furnishings is welcoming to patients and staff with ample space for supportive program services.
“Our patients don’t feel so good about themselves. We want them to know that we are proud of them for coming. We want to show how proud we are with the beautiful space we’ve built for them,” Egan said.
The redone wing features single and double patient rooms, a nurses station, unit coordination area, examination rooms and a group activity room that can be used for counseling or recreation .
All-substance addiction treatment is available through the program for anyone 18 years of age or older. Amid the ongoing opioid epidemic, spurred by over-prescription at the behest of pharmaceutical companies, it’s no surprise that patients are most often seeking treatment for these substances.
“Over the past five years, we have seen a tremendous increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for an opioid use disorder,” Egan said.
Patients typically stay on the unit for just over 20 days and receive individual, group and family counseling to help them recover. Medication can be prescribed and adjusted as needed.
Medication can be crucial in blocking withdrawal symptoms and cravings, according to Kelly Underwood, manager of substance abuse services at St. Mary’s.
“It’s an important part of their treatment package that we can offer,” Underwood said. “Even when someone detoxes and is no longer in withdrawal, there is such an urge that surrounds it that is a real driver and makes it difficult to have a more stable recovery.”
Using drugs to treat addiction is not the same as switching from one drug to another, Egan said. This unfounded belief has created stigma around a recovery resource that can help people feel just normal and able to get through their day.
“They don’t get high on this drug. They feel what we feel when we wake up every morning,” Egan said.
The chemical dependency program specializes in the dual management of addictions and mental disorders. The move of the Chemical Dependence Unit to the Memorial Building, which houses outpatient substance abuse, opioid treatment, children’s mental health and adult mental health services, is part of ongoing efforts to streamline access to coordinated care.
“It gives us the ability to collaborate seamlessly, when it’s not all in the same building, it’s a little more challenging,” Egan said.
People who initially seek outpatient addiction services who providers believe would benefit from inpatient care may sometimes be reluctant or afraid to enter the program, Egan added. The ability to simply walk to another floor of the same building to visit the chemical dependency unit and interact with staff can go a long way in convincing patients.
Additionally, anyone seeking both mental health and addictions treatment unsure of where to go can easily be directed to the appropriate services and providers by visiting one site or calling the 24/7 Helpline. 7 of St. Mary’s.
“There is no wrong door,” Egan said. “We want people to have access to treatment when they need it.”
Patients in the Chemical Dependency Unit undergo physical examinations to identify and address any issues related to physical health and general well-being. Addiction can lead to health problems, Egan acknowledged, while persistent issues causing discomfort can contribute to relapses.
“We fail if we only deal narrowly with addiction,” Egan said. “We have to look at the whole person.”
The presence of the Rao Outpatient Pavilion and the Amsterdam Family Health Center on the same campus allows patients easy access to physical health services.
Addiction inpatient services had an average occupancy rate of 94% before the pandemic. St. Mary’s anticipates that the chemical dependency unit will exceed these levels to achieve full occupancy.
The health care agency is preparing to meet the need for addiction services by adding six additional inpatient beds and program space through new renovations to space on the third floor of the Memorial Building planned for the year next.
Hospital administrators are still considering how to reuse the former Chemical Dependency Unit space on the Guy Park Avenue campus.
Contact Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.
More from The Daily Gazette: