New adult behavioral health unit in St. Mary’s designed with patient needs in mind


LEWISTON – The new adult behavioral health unit slated to open at St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center this year will be “a place to deliver care that matches care,” said Behavioral Health Medical Director Dr Michael Kelley.

The new unit on the top floor of the St. Mary’s Hospital building is a major improvement over the current unit, he said while touring with U.S. Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Friday. .

“We have such amazing doctors, nurses and social workers and it finally feels like we’re going to be able to give them what they deserve,” Kelley said.

While the new unit will have 18 beds instead of the current 24, all rooms, except a few, are single occupancy with private bathrooms.

Kelley and director of nursing Paul Rouleau said the current unit could have six to eight beds at one time that are not open to patients, depending on the needs of the patients on the unit. Some patients may not be comfortable in a double occupancy room, for example. There will be double rooms for patients who prefer this.

The design of the unit, from the large windows with views to the east and west, to the private spaces for patients to use the internet or talk to their families, was created with input from an advisory committee of patients and taking into account their needs.

“They were in every one of the early years design meetings, and you’ll see it as you go,” Kelley said.

“I thought it was absolutely spectacular,” Collins said after the tour. “Everything from the private rooms in the chosen colors to the large windows with beautiful views and natural light, will make people feel more comfortable receiving the treatment they need and shorten their stay in the city. ‘hospital. “

Many of the same improvements to the Adult Behavioral Unit were already implemented when the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Unit was moved to a renovated space in 2019. Updated features, such as single bedrooms, are already making a difference, suppliers said. The cases where restraint or seclusion must be used has dramatically decreased, they said, and they believe this is because patients now have a quiet, private space they can go to.

There will be telemedicine and remote access capabilities for patients, so they can communicate with other doctors or participate in court hearings remotely. Each bedroom has its own television and its own medical equipment, such as oxygen capacities, both of which are features of a typical medical unit room.

The goal with this, Kelley said, was to give patients “the same respect that a medical patient would have in a medical hospital (room).”

When patients are in an environment more conducive to healing, providers find they can leave the unit sooner, Kelley said. The waitlist for behavioral health services in St. Mary’s is still long, he said, and there could be 10 to 15 people in the emergency department waiting for a bed at any given time. .

“But we are delighted to give them a much nicer place,” he said.

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