Nashua’s St. Joseph Hospital has opened a senior behavioral health unit for those 65 and older experiencing behavioral and emotional health challenges.
“The need for acute psychiatric care for older adults in New Hampshire has never been greater,” St. Joseph Hospital President John A. Jurczyk said in a news release. “As a community partner, we are proud to be able to provide this service, especially in the midst of a nationwide pandemic when seniors may be experiencing isolation and depression.”
The 24-bed in-patient unit is staffed by a team of physicians, nurses and a variety of other disciplines with specialized training in geriatric mental health. According to the news release, the goal is to provide a coordinated and comprehensive approach to care for patients.
Key to the unit’s treatment philosophy is an emphasis on providing the tools, resources and coping skills patients and their families need to promote healing and healthy functioning on an ongoing basis.
Dr. Jodi Marshall was recently recruited to be the Senior Behavioral Health Unit medical director.
“While many adults begin experiencing symptoms of behavioral health problems for the first time in their senior years, families are often uncertain how to help, and primary care doctors may not be well-equipped to advise and treat these emerging symptoms,” Dr. Marshall said.
“Family involvement — with the patient’s consent — is a key element of any treatment plan on our unit. Often the best medicine is delivered by those closest to the patient, and at St. Joseph Hospital, we are encouraging family members to be actively involved whenever possible.”
The unit’s staff receives extensive training to understand how chronic health conditions, medications, life-changing circumstances, losses and the physical consequences of aging all add stress on the ability to cope and often result in seriously diminished quality of life, the news release said.
Anyone 65 or older experiencing difficulty with symptoms such as depression, anxiety, loss of coping ability, cognitive changes, or severe changes in behavior patterns may benefit from the services offered in the Senior Behavioral Health Unit, hospital officials said.
Referrals for admission can be made by physicians, families, and patients themselves at (603) 884-5560 or by contacting SBHU Community Education Manager Peter Burke at [email protected]