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Lehigh Regional soon to unveil new Behavioral Health Unit

November 27, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lehigh Regional Medical Center, a member of Prime Healthcare, will host a ribbon cutting next month to unveil its newly constructed 35-bed, 55 and older Behavioral Health Unit.

The event will be held Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 4:30 p.m. for the unit located on the third floor of the center.

The unit will be dedicated to the treatment of patients 55 and older who suffer from emotional, social, and behavioral issues that affect the healthy function of very day life.

Article Photos

Dr. Ralph Ryback


"They have totally remodeled the third floor, with over $5 million in renovations. It's going to be a state-of-art facility, down to the cement pillars and furnishings, making it the cutting edge program for patients who are 55 years and older ," Program Director, Dr. Ralph Ryback, said.

Dr. Ralph Ryback was recently brought onboard to lead the Behavioral Unit at Lehigh Regional. He has a credited history as a scientific researcher, clinician and psychiatric practitioner. His professional endeavors include beginning the first alcoholism and drug abuse treatment program at Harvard Hospitals, serving as medical director of several adolescent programs in Adventist Health Care Systems and, most recently, being medical director of The Willough at Naples in Naples.

Ryback is excited about the chance to bring this type of full-spectrum, psychiatric and behavioral treatment program to Lehigh.

"They realized there was a gigantic, under-served population here in Lehigh Acres who are over 55. Psychiatric might initiate the treatment with some patients, but then we find they have an assortment of underlying issues going on as well. Many of them recently retired or are going through the loss of a partner," Ryback said.

Ryback spoke about a patient who came in with memory loss. Upon being asked about her sense of worth, she broke down in tears.

"Many of those over 55 might find themselves in an existential void. They may suffer from depression besides a medical condition. Everyone wants to feel they have value. We want to help restore the humility to these people again," Ryback said.

The behavioral unit will offer 35 hours of active therapy a week; contain spaces for individual therapy, group therapy, art recreation, and other types of inpatient psychiatric programs.

"We will be doing thing that are innovative for patient care, and plan to become one of the leading university affiliated programs in the country," Ryback said.

According to Ryback, the behavioral program also will offer special programs dedicated to single patients who live alone, such as a luncheon program where they can come meet with others to interact and make friends.

"It's going to be a warm and welcoming environment. We will work closely with other nationally known programs to provide treatments that encompass not just behavioral health but physical, sexual, and even place focus on their longevity dietary needs," Ryback said.

Presently, the hospital is working to bring some of the top medical professionals to staff the new Behavioral Health Unit.

"We encourage the community to come join us for the ribbon cutting, so they have the chance to see where we are going, and what we are doing here. Get their feedback," Ryback said.

The ribbon cutting will take place on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 4:30 p.m., on the 3rd floor of Lehigh Regional Medical Center, at 1500 Lee Blvd., Lehigh Acres.

Community and government leaders around the region are welcomed to attend the open-house and ribbon cutting, followed by light refreshments. If planning to attend, RSVP prior to Monday, Dec. 2, to Jackie Arsenault at 239-368-4479 or

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