Bethlehem News

Published on August 18th, 2014

Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit

Inpatient, Personalized Treatment for Mental Illness

The Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit at St. Luke’s University Hospital, Bethlehem, treats adults 60 years of age and over in a secure and intimate setting created to address the unique behavioral health needs of older adults. Those who are suffering from emotional and behavioral changes due to major depression, severe anxiety/panic, bipolar disorders, or schizophrenia are appropriate for referral.

The OABHU is distinguished by its interdisciplinary treatment team that includes nurses, mental health technicians, case managers, activity therapists, and a psychiatrist with special training in treating older adult patients.

What To Look For

Changes in an older adult’s behavior, mood, or routine may be an indicator that a psychiatric condition is present. Some of the symptoms that are treated at the Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit include confused thinking, prolonged depression (sadness or irritability), feelings of extreme highs and lows, excessive fears (worries and anxieties), social withdrawal, dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits, strong feelings of anger, delusions or hallucinations, increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities, suicidal thoughts, denial of obvious problems, numerous unexplained physical ailments, and substance abuse.

Some Startling Statistics

  • Although they comprised only 12% of the U.S. population, people age 65 and older accounted for 16% of suicide deaths in 2004.
  • Up to 75% of older adults who have died by suicide have visited a physician within one month of their death.

We Can Help You Help Them

Making the decision to address an older adult’s change in mental status can be extremely difficult. St. Luke’s University Health Network’s behavioral health experts can help. We offer a multitude of services, including but not limited to:

  • Psychiatric evaluation and treatment
  • Medical evaluation and management
  • Medication management
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Recreation therapy
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Patient and family education
  • Nutrition consultation and education
  • Neurology consultation
  • Pharmacy consultation
  • Medical and surgical subspecialty consultation
  • Neuropsychology consultation
  • Discharge/aftercare planning

Treatment Goal

The goal of OABHU treatment is to return our patients to their best possible level of health so they may function in a way that exemplifies an improved quality of life in a stable outside environment.

Physician Referrals

Admission criteria: Age 60+ with a Primary Axis 1 Mental Health Diagnosis.

Have the following information available:

  • Patient name
  • POA/Guardian name and phone number
  • Patient address
  • Patient phone number
  • Medical insurance
  • Primary care physician
  • Any commitment paperwork (201,302)
  • Original paperwork must be sent with patient

If available, fax copies of the following information to 484-526-5206…

  • Most recent laboratory values
  • History and physical
  • Progress notes
  • Medication list
  • Cognitive assessments- mini-mental status exam, neuropsychological exam

A complete intake will be started upon referral. The psychiatrist will be consulted and if the patient meets the criteria for admission, he or she will be a direct admit or will be referred to the ED for medical clearance.

To make a referral for admission, call the Older Adult Behavioral Health Unit at 484-526-5200.


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