DOVER -- The recently opened Union Hospital Behavioral Health Center helps to fill a gap at the local level between traditional outpatient psychiatric treatment and inpatient hospitalization. According to Stephanie Dunn, BSN, RN, Behavioral Health Center manager, the Center treats patients with acute psychiatric disorders, providing a level of care and treatment services similar to an inpatient psychiatric hospital.

"Our program's goal is to reduce the need for inpatient hospitalizations and to provide a step-down treatment center for people discharged from an inpatient psychiatric hospital who are returning to their community," Dunn said. "We've found a great need for this level of care for people with mental health problems in our community."

The Behavioral Health Center employs a psychiatrist, registered nurse with psychiatric health experience, counselors and therapists to offer treatment for adults, age 18 and over. Patients admitted to the program will come with a psychiatric diagnosis of depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mood disorders. According to Dunn, patients enter the program voluntarily, must be capable of participating in and benefiting from the intensive treatment. Patients who are potentially violent or acutely suicidal will be referred to other treatment resources.

The Union Hospital Behavioral Health Center opened September 15 and a number of patients have been admitted to the program. It is located on the lower level of the medical office building at 300 Medical Park Drive on the Union Hospital campus in Dover. The Center is staffed during weekday business hours. Patients will receive treatment typically between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. with extended hours available as required.

Dunn said the Behavioral Health Center provides two levels of care based on the needs of the patients. "In our Partial Hospitalization Program, patients come four or five days a week for up to six hours each day. The Intensive Outpatient Program sees patients three or four days a week for three to five hours. Our patients will receive a combination of group therapy, individual and family therapy, psychiatric evaluation, medication management, and counseling for nutrition, personal relationships, and life skills."

"Both programs are outpatient in nature," Dunn said. "Our patients will return home to their families and friends each afternoon and are home for the full weekend. The length of the patient's treatment can range from two weeks to two months or longer in some cases. Patients may transition from one program to the other based on their on-going need for treatment."

Dunn said patients enter the Behavioral Health Center program in a variety of ways. "Our patients may be referred to the program by their doctor, area mental health or counseling agencies, hospital case managers and discharge planners, or perhaps by a family member. Patients may also refer themselves by calling the Center and talking to us."

The cost of the program is covered by most insurance plans and Medicare.

To make a referral to the Union Hospital Behavioral Health Center, or for more information, call Courtney Skaer, Community Liaison Coordinator, at 330-308-3700. More information about the program can also be found at