Unit Recently Celebrated Four Year Anniversary
Four years after St. Luke’s Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit opened, the unit continues to serve the behavioral health needs of people aged 55 and over. Opened in February of 2013, St. Luke’s recognized the need to provide a secure and soothing environment for adults with long-standing or newly-diagnosed mental illnesses.
Medical Director Farhad Sholevar, MD leads a team of nurses, mental health technicians and case managers who are specially trained in treating older patients. Certified both in psychiatry and geriatric psychiatry, Dr. Sholevar, who is also Chairman of the St. Luke’s University Health Network Department of Psychiatry, has extensive experience in treating older adults for a variety of behavioral health conditions including depression, depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and sleep disorders.
Located at St. Luke’s University Hospital – Bethlehem, the Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit provides patients the added advantage of access to specialists who treat diseases common among the elderly such as heart disease, cancer and neurological illnesses. In addition, the St. Luke’s geriatric team led by Alaa-Eldin Mira, MD, Chief of Geriatrics and Medical Director of St. Luke's Center for Positive Aging regularly sees patients in the Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit. “St. Luke’s is committed to our patients physical and behavioral well-being so we routinely collaborate to provide comprehensive assessment and recommendations for our senior patients”, says Dr. Mira.
The unit is designed to provide a peaceful, home-like setting where the staff provides support for families and caregivers as well as patients.
Many older adults have at least one chronic health condition and depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses or who experience limited function. Changes in behavior, mood or routine may be an indicator that a psychiatric condition is present. Symptoms may interfere with care at home or in a long-term setting. Symptoms treated at St. Luke’s Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit include:
- Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows
- Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Strong feelings of anger
- Delusions or hallucinations
- Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
- Suicidal thoughts
- Denial of obvious problems
- Numerous unexplained physical ailments
- Substance abuse
“We understand making the decision to seek inpatient behavioral health services can be challenging or even frightening,” says Dr. Sholevar. “Our team of behavioral health specialists evaluate each individual’s situation and develops a custom care plan with the goal of returning patients to their best possible level of health and improve their quality of life.”
About St. Luke’s
Founded in 1872, St. Luke’s University Health Network (SLUHN) is a non-profit, regional, fully integrated and nationally recognized network providing services at seven hospitals and more than 270 outpatient sites. The network’s service area includes Lehigh, Northampton, Carbon, Schuylkill, Bucks, Montgomery, Berks and Monroe counties in Pennsylvania and in Warren County in New Jersey. Dedicated to advancing health education, St. Luke’s operates the nation’s oldest School of Nursing and 22 graduate medical educational programs and is considered a major teaching hospital, the only one in the region. In partnership with Temple University, St. Luke’s created the region’s first Medical School. Repeatedly, including 2017, St. Luke’s has earned Truven’s 100 Top Major Teaching Hospital designation as well as 50 Top Cardiovascular program in addition to other honors for clinical excellence. St. Luke’s is a multi-year recipient of the Most Wired award recognizing the breadth of St. Luke’s information technology applications such as electronic medical records, telehealth, online scheduling and pricing information. St. Luke’s is also recognized as one of the state’s lowest cost providers in comparison to major teaching hospitals and other health systems.