New DMC unit focuses on geriatric behavioral health

ELKINS — Davis Medical Center is letting local officials know about a new unit offering important services to senior citizens.

Laurel Place, which focuses on development health care for seniors, opened at DMC on Jan. 2.

Tracy Fath, vice president of marketing and development for Davis Health System, recently told Elkins City Council that Laurel Place is “a geriatric behavioral health unit,” and noted “access to care for behavioral health issues is a concern for the residents of this community.”

“We have a relationship with a company called Green Oak Behavioral Health, they provide an outpatient behavioral health program at Broaddus Hospital in Philippi. So we partnered with them to bring a behavioral health program, in patient, to Davis Health System,” Fath said. “This is our first go at a psychiatric behavioral program. So we are excited. This is the first of its kind, not only in Randolph County, but it’s going to support the needs of communities in several different counties.”

Fath provided an informational packet about the facility, which stated that Laurel Health provides a “confidential, safe environment for care.” The locked unit within Davis Medical Center “provides for enhanced patient safety,” the informational packet states, adding the unit is “equipped with state-of-the-art features to ensure safety standards and requirements are fully met.”

“It is geared toward the senior population,” Fath said. “Dementia and depression are two of the biggest concerns of this age bracket, so that’s basically what we focus on. It is a short-term program. The average length of stay is 12 to 14 days … so we get people back on track and send them back to the environment from which they came.”

“We are planning an open house this year, in February,” Fath said, noting DMC will invite all city officials to the opening.

Fourth Ward Councilwoman Marilyn Cuonzo asked, “Where is the money for this coming from? Is this a program through the federal government?”

Fath said, “No, this is just an investment that Davis Medical Center has made to bring this program to the community.”

She noted that Laurel Place is located “on the second floor. It’s a secure unit, a locked unit.”

“There are two visitation times per day,” Fath said. “Family is encouraged to be part of the treatment plan, because after their short-term stay they will go back into their environment.”

Laurel Place is described as a 20-bed center for patients 55 and older with acute psychiatric or behavioral disorders.

Davis Health System submitted a Certificate of Need to the West Virginia Health Care Authority in 2017. DHS received approval and construction began in early 2018.

In December, DMC received full accreditation from the Joint Commission for Laurel Place.

More information is available at davishealthsystem.org.

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