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Behavioral health unit offers hope

Depression, effects from PTSD among the things treated

February 19, 2020
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

Lehigh Regional Medical Center's Behavioral Health Unit is now offering depression screenings to residents in the Lehigh Acres community.

The screenings will be free of cost and available to the public as well as local health fairs, colleges, clubs and groups.

The behavioral health unit opened in December 2019 and is dedicated to the treatment of those 55 and older.

"The goal of these screenings is to help people recognize possible signs of depression. Anyone interested in taking the free depression screening can simply come to the front of the medical center and ask for one. If someone feels suicidal or like they are going to hurt themselves, they can come directly through our emergency room," Cynthia Baker, director of Behavioral Health and registered nurse said. "We are here to help them to get their lives back."

Each prospective patient taken into the unit must meet an admissions criteria. If they are not suited for inpatient treatment, healthcare staff will refer them to an outpatient program.

According to Baker, psychiatric reasons may be the reason people come in, but there usually are an assortment of underlying issues going on as well. Since opening its door three months ago, the behavioral health unit reports it has treated patients with success.

"It's just been remarkable to the transformation of the patients we have had come in for help. Some with depression or other behavioral health related issues. They come in so sad and down. We had one woman who came to us in tears and could barely walk. She was having family issues and suffering from depression. After going through a 12-day treatment period, she came out almost dancing. She came back to see us and brought cupcakes and flowers to our staff," Baker said.

Baker contributes their success to Program Director Dr. Ralph Ryback.

"Our behavioral health unit is every unique. Dr. Ryback has made great progress with these patients. His goal is to get the entire body working properly; mind, body, and emotionally. He believes in the dietary aspects of overall health. He reviews the medications to assess if they are working properly," Baker said.

Every patient receives a full-treatment plan which includes group meetings held throughout the day.

"We have an exercise group, community group and the wrap-up group at the end of the day where patients have a chance to talk about their experiences," Baker added.

Another underdiagnosed condition the behavioral unit aims to address is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD, an effect that can be from military trauma, which includes readjusting to civilian life, problems sleeping, and reoccurring nightmares.

"We are reaching out to veterans who may have PTSD. This can be a very broad condition and affect anyone who has went through a traumatic event in their lives that's altered their mental state and impairs daily functioning," Baker said. "This also pertains to law enforcement and first responders."

"Dr. Andrew Logue spoke on behalf of Lehigh Regional Medical Center at the VFW in Lehigh Acres on Tuesday, Feb. 11. During his talk he spoke with more than 40 veterans about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in veterans and the treatment options available, and ways to manage their symptoms to keep them from getting worse," Jackie Arsenault, marketing director at Lehigh Regional Medical Center said. "He also explained that there is psychotherapy available (Cognitive Processing Therapy), group therapy for veterans who served in certain combat zones and have been through similar traumas."

Logue received his training at Yale University and is a license psychiatrist. He is currently treating patients at Lehigh Regional Medical Center in the new Behavioral Health Unit.

Lehigh Regional Medical Center is offering depression screenings at no cost. For more information call 239-491-8420.



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