Options limited for area seniors who need inpatient psychiatric care

The geriatric psychiatry unit at Grandview Medical Center closed last summer six years after opening, leaving limited local options for area older adults who need to be hospitalized with psych issues.

Dayton resident Elizabeth McDonald said her mother ended up at Wayne HealthCare in Greenville for several weeks when she couldn’t find a local treatment option after several days of hospital social workers searching for options.

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With children in school, McDonald said it was hard to visit and be supportive.

“A mental health patient needs their family,” she said.

Grandview, part of Kettering Health Network, had opened its inpatient geriatric psychiatry unit in 2012, with officials at the time saying that seniors with dementia and psychiatric disorders were an underserved group in the Miami Valley.

However, while the unit had 18 beds, on an average day there were only six to eight patients, according to Kettering Health. Then the nearby Good Samaritan Hospital closed in July, prompting Grandview to expand its ER and its cardiac care and the geriatric unit was converted for cardiac services.

Elizabeth Long, hospital spokeswoman, said they decided there was more community need for cardiac beds. There are now 36 beds, which are often full, and will be 50 total beds when the final part of the unit is built.

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She said if a geriatric patient comes into the hospital with a mental health issue, the patient is seen by Grandview’s behavioral evaluation team. If that patient also has medical issues, they may be admitted to a medical unit while also being treated for behavioral health issues. In some instances, if patient volume is high, she said Grandview will work with the patient and their family to find the most appropriate facility to care for them.

McDonald said her mother had been admitted to Grandview after a visit to the ER for a diabetes problem and then needed psychiatric treatment, which is when she learned the hospital no longer had a dedicated geriatric unit.

McDonald said she worked with hospital social workers for several days to find a facility where her mother could go that could both help with her mental health needs and her medical needs from her diabetes. While some nursing homes have secure units, they struggled to find a place that would take her mother with her psychiatric issues. They finally found a bed at Wayne HealthCare, which opened its 12-bed Senior Behavioral Health department in 2015 to serve adults 65 years and older.

Linda Roepken, executive director for Dayton-based Life Essentials, which provides guardians for adults who need help with medical decision making, said there aren't many local options for area seniors who need inpatient psychiatric care.

They have had clients at times in St. Mary’s, in West Chester and in Greenville, all of which are far enough away where it makes it difficult for guardians to regularly check on the client’s well being.

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“We see them at least once a month and more often if necessary. When the are hospitalized, we want to go there and check on them and have conversations with the nursing staff and physicians,” she said.

There are facilities in the Dayton area with general psychiatric units, including Miami Valley Hospital and Grandview Medical Center. Haven Behavioral Hospital in Dayton was originally geared toward adults 50 and older but then in 2018 expanded to include young adults.

McDonald said she was also worried about safety issues if her 71-year-old mother was in a unit around younger and stronger psychiatric patients having behaviors.

But Roepken said while there are other options besides a geriatric unit, those aren’t always the right option for seniors. She said younger people deal with problems differently and it can add to an older adult’s stress level to be in a psychiatric unit with younger and high energy patients.

“When you are 60 or 70 or 80, you don’t need that over stimulation,” Roepken said.


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