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Updated 10:00 AM September 22, 2008
 

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Project to renovate, expand psychiatric facilities, programs

More than 100 years ago, the University opened the doors to one of the nation's first inpatient psychiatric facilities that aimed to treat and study mental illness.

A new $3.8 million project will take that legacy into the 21st century, with renovations and expansions to the U-M facilities and programs that serve adult patients during their most severe psychiatric episodes.

The Board of Regents Sept. 18 approved a project that will remodel and add the capacity for three additional beds to the existing 22-bed inpatient psychiatric unit within University Hospital, allowing more patients to have private inpatient rooms. The project also will improve and expand facilities for patients who come to the hospital to receive electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which can now be given on an outpatient basis.

At the same time that the physical space is overhauled, U-M has embarked on an innovative "hospitalist" approach to caring for hospital patients with psychiatric issues that centers on a team of psychiatrists who specialize in treating only hospitalized patients with mental health issues.

The new efforts complement the outpatient care available at the Depression Center, and at U-M's outpatient psychiatry and addiction treatment center. All of these are based at the Rachel Upjohn Building on the East Medical Campus.

The inpatient unit also links closely with Psychiatric Emergency Services, located at University Hospital, which is one of only two 24-hour emergency rooms in southeast Michigan for people in mental health crisis. U-M also has a 14-bed child and adolescent psychiatry inpatient unit at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.

"This project represents a major commitment on the part of the U-M Health System to caring for the mental health needs of our community, and continuing our mission of improving care for patients everywhere through research and innovative practices," says Dr. Gregory Dalack, interim chair of the Department of Psychiatry.

"Ultimately, this simultaneous overhaul of our physical space and our programs will allow us to truly provide a seamless continuum of high-quality care, from emergency to inpatient to outpatient," says Dr. David Knesper, director of the Hospital and Community Psychiatry Section of the Department of Psychiatry. "This is especially noteworthy at a time when the number of psychiatric beds in our region has shrunk."

The programs provided on the inpatient unit have been developed along subspecialty lines including:

• Those with mood disorders such as severe depression and bipolar disorder;

• Those with thought disorders such as schizophrenia and psychosis; and

• Older adults who have both severe mental and physical illnesses and need special geriatric-oriented inpatient care that can address all their needs at once.

In each of these focus areas, the physical renovation and programs are aligned, with care given by specialized teams that include psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and activity therapists.

The renovation will allow a flexible number of patient rooms — up to four at a time depending on need — to be used as a secure intensive care unit (ICU) for the most severely ill psychiatric patients.

Improvements to the inpatient unit will include a library and computer stations for patients to use; a more welcoming feel with wood trim and fewer barriers; enhanced laundry, dining and activity rooms; informal gathering places for patients and visitors; direct access from the unit to an existing gymnasium for exercise; and larger medication preparation areas.

The renovation will enhance safety and security, with better video monitoring and more options for managing the flow of patients, including the flexible size of the ICU area.

Patients who come to the hospital for a series of outpatient ECT treatments, meanwhile, will have their own separate area, with better amenities and a separate entrance.

Another improvement aimed at enhancing continuity of care for patients is a new transition clinic. When the most appropriate continuity of care plan cannot be achieved in a timely manner at the time of discharge, the clinic provides immediate, interim care until more permanent outpatient providers become available.

For more information on the project and all of U-M's psychiatric care, go to http://med.umich.edu/psych.

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