July 2019

The Cove: Hilton Head Regional Healthcare on the leading edge with geriatric behavioral health unit

Author: Daisy Burroughs

Growing older does not always come easily. There can be both physical and mental losses, but that does not mean there is a need to give up on happiness and contentment. Hilton Head Regional Healthcare (HHRH) recently opened its new geriatric behavioral health unit at Hilton Head Hospital.

“We started talking about the behavioral health needs in our community and how we could help fulfill those needs about three years ago,” said Jeremy Clark, CEO of Hilton Head Regional Healthcare. “I was often asked why we were pursuing a unit like this. Part of it came from conversations with local people and our medical staff who had loved ones that had to travel outside of our community to receive similar health care services. After receiving all needed permissions to move forward with the project, construction began, and now we have the area’s only in-patient, behavioral health unit dedicated to caring for seniors.”

The Cove offers individualized, short-term care for older adults experiencing psychiatric symptoms requiring 24-hour inpatient treatment. This unit is designed for adults 65 years of age and older who are facing emotional, behavioral or mental health issues such as social withdrawal, insomnia, suicidal thoughts, severe anxiety or dementia as well as physical medical complications.

“Oftentimes, members of our senior community have medical issues such as diabetes, congestive heart failure or other conditions along with behavioral health concerns. Our hospital staff can manage both,” Clark said. “Many of us personally know that feeling of helplessness when you have someone you love turn into someone completely different. I think that feeling of helplessness is further compounded when there is not a good local resource available. Now, we have that local resource right here on Hilton Head Island.”

The unit is located on the third floor of Hilton Head Hospital, so should further intervention be required, help is never far away. Patients are served meals in the dedicated dining area, with chairs and tables specially designed for comfort and safety. Specialty menu items are prepared to meet the unique dietary needs of each patient. Psychiatrists, social workers, dietitians, pharmacists, chaplains and many more resources are all in close proximity.

“The care our patients will receive here is not just psychiatric care,” said Dr. Ravi Srivastava, medical director of The Cove. “The beauty of this unit is not only the physical space, but also the staff who will be working with our patients every day. We have a great nursing team here ready to meet the needs of our patients.”

Treatment plans include psychiatric and physical assessment, group activities, individual and group therapy, as well as family education and support. The care in the senior behavioral health unit involves stabilizing the crises that led to the hospitalization, providing a thorough evaluation, developing a treatment plan and coordinating care in a supportive, physician-supervised environment.

The Day Room is one of several areas where patients participate in group activities, which are facilitated by the staff, including therapists and nurses. All patients are encouraged to participate in the daily activities as specific programs are tailored to meet the needs of older adults. These include goal setting, behavioral management, problem solving, and relaxation therapy which aids recovery in sensory, motor, and cognitive functioning. Music, art and other therapies are also offered.

“I tell people all the time that our community is not your typical small town,” Clark said. “Our health system is not your typical health system. Whether it’s the advancements and investments we’re making in open heart surgery, advanced spine surgery, and advanced orthopedics at Hilton Head Hospital; the 24/7, in-house OB/GYN and anesthesia coverage at Coastal Carolina Hospital; or opening the area’s only free-standing emergency department which is scheduled to be in operation later this year, it’s not typical of any health system. Neither is this unit. This is a beautiful 16-bed unit, and we are proud to bring this service to our community.” 

For more information about The Cove at Hilton Head Hospital, visit www.hiltonheadregional.com/our-services/behavioral-health.

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