BV Medical Center opens 'Hope Harbor' for elders

Monday, June 17, 2002

Hope Harbor: 'Something new to learn in medicine'

Hospital employees, area doctors and members of the community gathered on the third floor of Buena Vista Regional Medical Center on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate the opening of the new - and rare - Hope Harbor Senior Behavioral Health Unit.

Hope Harbor, an eight-bed geriatric behavioral services unit which will help provide comprehensive medical and psychiatric evaluation, medication management and education, individual treatment planning, and many forms of therapies to senior citizens, accepted its first patient on Tuesday, and Kay Quirk, the nurse manager for the unit, said Hope Harbor said the need is "huge."

"This is a unique opportunity for us, because there aren't many places like this in this part of the state at all," Quirk said. "We've been accepting people from a large area for these services."

Hope Harbor will be staffed by 16 certified health care professionals, including Quirk, program director Evelyn Lundell and medical director Dr. David Archer, and Lundell said the two-to-one ratio of staff-to-patients will be beneficial to those using Hope Harbor.

"We have a wonderful staff of individuals who love taking care of older people, and to be able to provide one-on-one care to patients in a family-oriented atmosphere like this is certainly exciting."

Care will be personalized for each patient, Quirk said. "Everyone will do group activities and receive the same level of care, but there will be different goals for each patient, because they're all going to be at their individual levels. For some, we might be able to help them make a craft, and for others, we might be able to do very simple cooking. It all depends on the patient, but since our staff is experienced and we can focus on each patient more attentively, it will be a very personalized atmosphere."

The nursing staff will be led by Quirk, a 21-year veteran of BVRMC who has worked in nearly every unit in the hospital. That experience led Quirk to jump at the opportunity to help guide Hope Harbor from the beginning.

"There's always something new to learn when you work in the medical profession, and it's exciting for me to be a part of something new and exciting like this," Quirk said. "It's something that I've really been looking forward to."

Hope Harbor's goal is to improve the health, functioning and quality of life in older adults, and to enhance self-esteem and emphasize abilities rather than disabilities. It also aims to promote optimal independence.

Services of the geriatrics behavioral unit include therapeutic exercises, stress management, activity therapy groups, pastoral counseling, expressive therapy groups, neuropsychological testing, occupational and physical therapy and setting up individualized continuing care plans for patients and families. It also helps families of the patients by offering educational seminars and discharge planning.

Referrals to Hope Harbor can be made by concerned family members, friends, psychiatrists, physicians, nursing homes, and retirement communities.

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