Valley Baptist Opens Geriatric Unit

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Valley Baptist Opens Geriatric Unit

Geriatric Behavioral Health Unit staff at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen stand in front of some of the artwork displayed to give the 12-bed unit a warm atmosphere.
Geriatric Behavioral Health Unit staff at Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen stand in front of some of the artwork displayed to give the 12-bed unit a warm atmosphere.

Harlingen center addresses behavioral health

Valley Baptist Medical Center-Harlingen now offers geriatric behavioral health services to older adults in the Rio Grande Valley.

The inpatient services are available through a new 12-bed Geriatric Behavioral Health Unit on the third floor of the West Tower. A variety of designs make the unit feel more like a residential environment, and artwork throughout helps make it warm and inviting. Furthermore, Equipment and staff match the needs of older adults. 

 “We are very excited to be a part of this new geriatric behavioral health inpatient offering at VBMC-Harlingen,” said Dr. Robert Guevara, psychiatrist and medical director of Valley Baptist Behavioral Health Services. “Geriatric behavioral health services are highly useful when outpatient, inpatient or nursing home care of geriatric patients is complicated by acute behavioral issues or worsening of chronic mental health disorders that require a secure inpatient setting.”

Psychiatrists will provide an evaluation of each client’s treatment needs, and prescribe and monitor medications. They wilsupervise treatment, working in collaboration with the patient’s primary care physicians.

Because older adults can often face unique health circumstances, having a unit that is geared and staffed to specifically treat geriatric behavioral health issues is important for the overall health of the community, said Dr. Alejandro Kudisch, an adult and child-adolescent psychiatrist at VBMC. 

“We know from actuarial projections that our older adult population is growing larger, living longer and remains susceptible to late-life-onset or chronic mental health conditions such as major depression, anxiety, dementia or substance use disorders,” Kudisch said.

Advancing age often brings more risk of chronic medical illnesses that can impact mental health. These include chronic pain due to arthritis, cancer or fibromyalgia; neurological conditions such as stroke, or Parkinson’s disease; and atherosclerotic diseases such as heart attacks and peripheral vascular disease. These medical conditions may increase the risk of major depression or anxiety disorders later in life.

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