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Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph Psychiatric Observation Unit to open Monday

On Monday, Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph will launch a new level of behavioral health care services with the launch of its Psychiatric Observation Unit.

The unit, located on the lower-level of the hospital, will be staffed and equipped to provide care for up to 16 patients needing immediate behavioral health care services – providing a new level of care that has proved successful elsewhere around the country.

“Currently, we have outpatient and partial-day behavioral health programs for patients who need more intensive services but can still safely remain at home,” says psychiatrist Moneeshindra Mittal, MD, Ascension Via Christi’s medical director for Behavioral Health.

However, as in most communities, there has been no alternative other than hospitalization for behavioral health patients who come to the hospital Emergency Department needing immediate treatment in a calming environment where they can be closely observed.

“This new level of care, which has been employed successfully elsewhere around the country, allows us to provide that care in the least restrictive and life-interrupting manner possible,” says Dr. Mittal.

Robyn Chadwick, the Ascension Via Christi hospital leader responsible for Behavioral Health, agrees, noting, “It’s an innovative model, one that’s in keeping with our mission to provide the right care at the right time in the most appropriate environment.” 

The Psychiatric Observation Unit will be staffed by a multi-disciplinary team that will include psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed clinical social workers, nurses, behavioral health technicians and mental health protection workers.

“Our goal is to avoid having to admit people who could get the care they need in a less restrictive environment if it were available,” says Dr. Mittal.

The $3 million cost of the Psychiatric Observation Unit and therapeutic recreation center currently under construction at St. Joseph came from private donations to the Via Christi Foundation. Certain project costs have been supported by the Kansas Department of Commerce, Kansas Community Service Program.

Once the recreation center is done toward the end of the calendar year, the consolidation of behavioral health services at St. Joseph, which continues to serve as one of the community’s leading family care facilities, will be complete.

Ascension Medical Group Via Christi’s outpatient behavioral health clinic and Ascension Via Christi’s partial-day and psychiatric residency programs, which now occupy the entire third floor of the medical office building immediately west of the hospital, were the first to relocate as part of the more than $50 million capital improvement project.

The hospitals senior behavioral health unit and inpatient adult and adolescent units moved into their newly renovated sixth- and seventh-floor space earlier this year.

“The renovation of our hospital’s physical environment to support a full complement of family and behavioral health services would not have been possible without the financial support of community donors and our national ministry,” says Laurie Labarca, St. Joseph’s hospital president. “We are extremely thankful for that support.”

About Roz Hutchinson

Roz Hutchinson is a Wichita wife, mother and chief spoiler of six grandkids and three Chihuahuas, a die-hard women's basketball fan, and director of Communications and Public Relations for Ascension Via Christi.