Like all health care facilities, behavioral health hospitals had to play a round of pandemic twister beginning in March.
From the way patients are screened and processed to how therapeutic services are carried out and even how meals are served, these institutions were forced to adapt. Not just so they could continue to serve their communities, but to ensure the safety of patients and employees.
Sherrie James, CEO of The BridgeWay in North Little Rock, said the virus and its impact forced the industry to “get creative and think outside the box so that we can continue to serve our community but do our best to ensure safety for our patients and staff.” That could entail virtual interactions with patients and families or more often, just making sure staff has the appropriate PPE to wear and knows how to use it properly.
“The BridgeWay is highly focused on our top priorities: the health and safety of both patients and staff and the delivery of high-quality patient care. We have been preparing for and are actively responding to coronavirus challenges,” James said. “We are in contact with state and local authorities and closely follow the most up-to-date guidance and precautions from the CDC. We screen each patient daily and screen all staff upon entering the building; visitation has been suspended. And we have restructured patient programming to eliminate large-group congregation, such as group free time and group meals with multiple units in the dining room. We enable patients to use Zoom or additional phone time to keep in touch with their loved ones.”
James said her hospital is beginning to see an increase in patients after a slow spring and summer.
“When the pandemic first began, we saw the opposite effect because many people were afraid to come to hospitals. Now, we are seeing the impact of the prolonged isolation, financial worries due to loss of work and the stress and anxiety that all of that brings with it,” she said.
Like other facilities, The BridgeWay is experiencing the largest increase in volume with patients seeking help with chemical dependency.
“When people are forced to isolate on top of being worried about how they are going to pay their rent, the incidence of substance abuse often rises significantly,” James said. “We are just glad that we are able to help them, whether it be detox, acute rehab, intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization services.”
Stress management is a hot topic in America these days. According to research from the University of North Carolina and Harvard Medical School, 55 percent of surveyed American adults said they were more stressed in May than they were in January. (It should be noted that the survey of 1,500 demographically diverse adults was conducted before the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.)
Focus only on what you can actually change — James said it’s the best advice she’s ever received about stress management.
“It can be something as simple as practicing gratitude or mindfulness or setting goals for yourself,” she said. “The goals can be about self-improvement, such as exercise or a healthier diet, or they may be more altruistic in nature, such as making donations to your favorite charity. Whatever you choose to do, set the goals and earnestly work toward achieving them.”
Behavioral Health Hospitals In Arkansas
– Arkansas State Hospital, Little Rock (321)
– The BridgeWay, North Little Rock (127)
– Pinnacle Pointe Behavioral Healthcare System, Little Rock (124)
– Vantage Point of Northwest Arkansas, Fayetteville (114)
– Valley Behavior Health System, Barling (114)
– Rivendell Behavioral Health Services, Benton (80)
– Springwoods Behavioral Health Hospital, Fayetteville (80)
– Conway Behavioral Health Hospital (80)
– Riverview Behavioral Health, Texarkana (62)
– Methodist Behavioral Hospital, Maumelle (60)
– Perimeter Behavioral Hospital of West Memphis (54)
Source: Arkansas Hospital Association
“We are just glad that we are able to help them, whether it be detox, acute rehab, intensive outpatient or partial hospitalization services.”