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St. Joseph Hospital Provides Vulnerable Seniors Much Needed Services

St. Joseph Hospital hit the ground running in 2021 with the opening of its new Senior Behavioral Health Unit (SBHU) serving adults 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. As a community partner, we are proud to be able to provide this service, especially in the midst of a worldwide pandemic when seniors may be experiencing isolation and depression,” St. Joseph Hospital President John A. Jurczyk says.

The 24-bed, in-patient unit is staffed by a team of physicians, nurses and professionals from a variety of other disciplines with specialized training in geriatric mental health to provide a coordinated and comprehensive approach to care for their patients. Key to the unit’s treatment philosophy is its emphasis on providing the tools, resources and coping skills patients and their families need to promote healing and healthy functioning on an ongoing basis.

“Many adults begin experiencing symptoms of behavioral health problems for the first time in their senior years,” shares Dr. Jodi Marshall, SBHU Medical Director. “Often families are uncertain how to help, and primary care doctors may not be well-equipped to advise and treat these emerging symptoms. 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 encourage family members to be actively involved whenever possible.”

Understanding and treating mental health issues in this population is uniquely complicated when compared to other populations. SBHU staff receive extensive training to understand how chronic health conditions, medications, life-changing circumstances, losses and the physical consequences of aging all add stress to a person’s ability to cope and often result in seriously diminished quality of life. Although research indicates there are many things we can do to improve symptoms, many people are reluctant to acknowledge and address these issues or are unaware of how to access resources.

Referrals for admission to the SBHU can be made by physicians, families, and even patients themselves. Anyone age 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. Referrals for admission may be made by calling 603-884-5560 or by contacting the SBHU Community Education Manager Peter Burke at pburke1@covh.org. Additionally, St Joseph Hospital accepts Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance plans.

St. Joseph Hospital is a member of Covenant Health.

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