St. Lukes geriatric psychiatry unit celebrates 15th birthday

Published 6:45 pm Tuesday, November 16, 2010

St. Lukes Hospital Center of Behavioral Medicine has treated 3,763 patients since its doors opened in 1995. The center has since continued to flourish and provide inpatient geriatric psychiatry services for Polk County, surrounding North Carolina counties, and upstate South Carolina. Patients have come from as far away as Salisbury, to the east, and Bryson City, to the west.

St. Lukes Center of Geriatric Psychiatry is a 10-bed facility that treats a spectrum of disorders including: Alzheimers disease, depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder and other early onset dementias. Dr. Robert Ratcliffe and Dr. Belynda Veser, both board certified psychiatrists, treat patients of the unit.

Changes brought on by the aging process can be challenging, overwhelming and debilitating, says Dr. Robert Ratcliffe, medical director of the geriatric psychiatric unit. Increased awareness and understanding of the relationship between the physical health and mental well being of an aging person enhance the healing process.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Under the medical direction of Dr. Ratcliffe and Dr. Veser, the unit offers state of the art diagnosis and in-patient treatment in a personal setting.

All patients undergo a thorough evaluation, including a psychiatric, medical and psychological assessment. Once diagnosed, patients begin individualized treatment to alleviate those problems that are treatable and to manage those problems that are progressive. In all cases, St. Lukes works to help patients achieve maximum independence. Patients and their families also benefit from the extensive referral network, which works to place patients in the most positive and least restrictive long-term setting when needed.

St. Lukes team of specialists includes a psychiatrist, psychologist, recreation therapist, social worker and psychiatric nurse to ensure that each patients needs are addressed and met to the fullest extent possible. Medical and health professionals including a dietitian, physical therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, nurse practitioner and pharmacist are available for consultation and treatment. Consults with a qualified neurologist and geriatrician are also available if needed.

St. Lukes officials say they understand that families of older adults who have psychological problems often suffer as much as their loved ones. Family counseling sessions as well as patient management and long-term care placement are available. In addition, the business office will work with families to verify Medicare or other insurance coverage.

To find out whether an adult 55 years of age or older is suitable for the program, call 828-894-3525 extension 3333. St. Lukes is available to help you 24 hours a day. An initial assessment is free and confidential.