Mental health workers ride the storm alongside patients | New
Anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, suicide, and all other mental health issues don’t stop or end just because there is a natural disaster.
Throughout Hurricane Ida and its current recovery period, the Hammond and Kentwood campuses of the Oceans Behavioral Hospital have maintained their services.
Oceans’ facilities in Kentwood and Hammond suffered only minor damage, a hospital official said.
“We knew that after a storm, with everything going on, people still needed mental health treatment,” said Allen McCartney, hospital administrator. “Emergencies still needed a place to send them so it was our plan to stay and be open and try to serve the community as we expected a lot of facilities in the south to close. because as hard hit, they were hit harder. . “
Oceans Hammond provides inpatient and outpatient mental health services for adult and geriatric patients, while Oceans Kentwood provides services for adolescents aged 10 to 17. Kentwood Institution also offers an intensive outpatient program for adults 18 years and older.
The staff congratulated
Despite the damage to their own homes, like many affected people in the area, many employees came to work and nursed patients first and then looked after their own homes.
At the time of the storm, all 32 beds at Hammond Institution were occupied and only one of the 20 beds at Kentwood Institution was open. Administrators distributed between the two sites and housed on site alongside nurses and technicians. Between the two sites, around 35 to 40 employees, including administrative and floor staff, are housed on site.
“It was nice to see the staff come in and take care of the patients even though many of them had major issues with their homes, some with trees, others with flooding, so they really stepped up to a when we really needed them, when patients really needed them, ”said McCartney.
As the freeways and roads opened up, staff came to work and relieved the workers who took shelter in place with residents for the night of the storm. Some employees stayed for a few days because they could not access their homes.
“I was just grateful to the staff who came to take care of the patients and gave us the opportunity to help patients and other providers in areas that needed our help,” said McCartney.
Generators were on standby before the storm and were used to control the patient part of the buildings during the two weeks the facility was without power. After a few days of working in the heat, the staff were able to connect the administrative offices to the generators. The patients’ areas were completely normal, he said.
He believes the only bright spot is that the two sites were unstaffed with COVID when the hurricane hit.
While the numbers for COVID are still high, if the rates were still as high as they were a month ago, when every facility had staff, they might not have had the staff available during the storm. did he declare.
Relief for emergencies
There were a lot of placement needs as the ERs were inundated with medical emergencies in addition to normal mental health needs, he said.
McCartney explained that the first day or two after the hurricane was slower because the hospital was full and it was difficult to get people home. Once patients were able to exit safely and staff made sure they could get their medications from pharmacies, Oceans Hospital began accepting more patients, hoping to help them. local emergency rooms, as well as the depressed patients themselves. and had not had their medication for a few days and wanted to be referred directly.
Medication compliance is huge for mental health, and not having stable access to medication can often exacerbate problems and cause people to seek services, he said.
Since the hurricane, Oceans has enrolled new patients in counseling services and there has been a slight increase in admissions to the outpatient program, he said.
Many facilities in southern Louisiana had to close because of the hurricane, which meant that many patients had to be placed in emergency rooms.
The group council at Oceans was closed the first few days after Ida. When it reopened, the patients who had not evacuated, about fifteen the first day, were able to get out of their environment and receive the advice they needed while offering a little respite from their hot homes to those who remained powerless. , he said.
Oceans is one of only two inpatient behavioral health hospitals in Hammond, both of which have been opened in the past two years. Oceans Hammond opened in January 2020, off Club Deluxe Road, and Universal Health Behavioral Hammond opened in April 2021 on South Oak Street.