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Lourdes to renovate behavioral health unit

BY LAUREN P. DUNCAN lduncan@paducahsun.com

Soothing colors and a more collaborative environment are some of the changes to be part of a $5 million renovation and expansion of the Lourdes Behavioral Health Institute.

Hospital leaders gathered for an announcement of the expansion Wednesday morning, with Lourdes President and CEO Steven Grinnell calling the unveiling of plans a "momentous occasion." The primary goal is to reduce the prevalence of mental illness in the region Lourdes serves, Grinnell said. He said during the course of any year, one in four adults will experience mental illness. Sixty percent of those individuals will go untreated.

"Our mission calls for us to serve the poor and the underserved, and certainly, those with mental illness are underserved," he said.

Wednesday's announcement comes after the July news of an $8.5 million expansion and renovation of the Lourdes emergency department, to be completed in late 2015.

The $5 million renovation and expansion of the behavioral unit will include adding 7,000 square feet, changing the layout and color schemes, revising the treatment structure, and expanding outpatient and inpatient capacity.

Structural changes will include added safety features and a multi-sensory environment that includes music, color, lighting and exercise equipment. The redesign will include common areas, group meeting rooms for patients, and a changed layout to allow for additional beds in either geriatrics or adult behavioral care if needed.

Service changes will include the expansion of adult and geriatric services, an intensive outpatient program, and a partial hospitalization program, in which patients at home visit the hospital for services.

The changes will also include expanded acute services and relapse prevention, as well as integrating primary care consultants into the behavioral health unit.

The number of geriatric and adult service beds will increase from 26 to 34. The renovation is expected to be completed during the spring of 2015.

Mercy Health, Lourdes' parent organization, is working to update its behavioral health units across its network of hospitals in Ohio and Kentucky, according to Dr. Donna Markham, president of Mercy Health's Behavioral Health Institute. Mercy Health leaders recognized the environments of many of its behavioral health units were depressing and in need of a therapeutic focus.

Dr. Laurie Ballew, who joined Lourdes as medical director of the Behavioral Health Institute this month, is a Heath High School graduate who returned to Paducah from working at the University of Louisville because Lourdes was expanding its geriatric unit. She noted that the expanded unit will help address concerns surrounding the ties between mental and physical health.

"There are great things coming to Lourdes, the Paducah area and the geriatric unit," she said.

Contact Lauren Duncan, Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8692 or follow @laurenpduncan on Twitter.

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