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Expanding Access to Psychiatric and Mental Healthcare

Osceola Regional opens Behavioral Health Center for South Orlando

KISSIMMEE — To answer the area’s critical need for psychiatric and mental healthcare in South Orlando and Osceola County, Osceola Regional Medical Center opened the $4.6 million Behavioral Health Center on Dec. 8, marking the county’s first hospital-affiliated in-patient treatment center.

“It’s been so busy since we opened,” said Michele Reed, MSN, RN, JD, of Osceola Regional’s Behavioral Health Center (BHC). “It’s been wonderful knowing that we’re offering a valuable service to the community.”

Osceola Regional, a 321-bed HCA (NYSE: HCA) hospital in the company’s North Florida division, opened the 25-bed center on the fourth floor of the Kissimmee hospital, where the 45-member staff will also serve the emergency department, treating patients with depression, mental anxiety, eating disorders, stress management needs and more.

“There’s been an influx of people in the community requiring this help,” said Reed. “Until now, patients in Osceola County and South Orlando have had few in-patient treatment options during these challenging times in their lives. Our ER has been overflowing with patients desiring this care. The community has been underserved.”

The 17,000-square-foot, Baker Act-designated facilityis expected to serve 1,200 patients annually via a multidisciplinary approach designed to address psychiatric and mental healthcare and the consequences of trauma.

Reed, who worked in a leadership role at the Orlando VA until Osceola Regional hired her as director of nursing, then program director, and now director of the BHC, said healthcare administrators recognized the need for expanded behavioral health services in Osceola County based on data from various sources and developed a strategy to open the center.

“For the past 35 years, Park Place (Behavioral Healthcare in Kissimmee) has been the only provider of behavioral health services in Osceola County,” Reed explained. “It was a little difficult getting the numbers because Park Place doesn’t have to report. However, we’ve learned that last year, there were roughly 1,600 behavioral health patients. More importantly to note, 81 percent of those patients were transferred out of the county, sometimes going as far as 100 miles away. We’ve been afforded the opportunity to increase access and quality of behavioral healthcare to patients in a healthy environment, and to provide consumers another local choice.”

Reed explained Osceola Regional BHC’s trauma-informed approach.

“More than 90 percent of behavioral health patients have had some trauma in their past,” she said. “Taking a trauma-informed approach simply means we’re compassionate and recognize that many people who come through our group have suffered significant traumatic life events that we want to be sensitive to, such as domestic violence, addiction, childhood abuse or neglect, and often have secondary issues.”

Specifically, BHC services include round-the-clock care and daily individual visits from psychiatric physicians; nursing care with medication management; group therapy facilitated by a master’s-level clinician six days a week; continuous monitoring and advanced security systems to insure patient safety; and semi-private suites designed to promote social interaction. The center also provides activities and family rooms.

“With a trauma-specific approach, highly qualified staff and a thoughtfully designed facility, the center provides vital care and support for patients and their families,” said Reed.

Osceola Regional’s Behavioral Health Center was designed by Fort Myers-based Studio+; Deangelis Diamond Healthcare Group served as general contractor.

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