Center for Geriatric Psychiatry Opens at Wing Memorial Hospital

PALMER — Nearly 250 friends, staff, and supporters of Wing Memorial Hospital in Palmer recently joined in a ribbon-cutting event and tours of the hospital’s newly opened Center for Geriatric Psychiatry (CGP).

“The Center for Geriatric Psychiatry provides a critically needed service to help improve the mental health of older patients throughout the four counties of western Massachusetts,” said Dr. Charles Cavagnaro III, president and CEO of Wing Memorial Hospital and Medical Centers. The CGP is one of only two geriatric psychiatry programs in Western Mass. and is the only one to have onsite access to acute hospital-level medical treatment. Wing’s entire staff of specialists and health care professionals is steps away and readily available for CGP patients’ needs.

In partnership with New England Geriatrics, the 15-bed Center for Geriatric Psychiatry is led by board-certified geriatric psychiatrists and internists, who are assisted by a professional staff specializing in geriatric care. Wing has partnered with New England Geriatrics, an organization well-known in the Commonwealth for its mental health services to residents and their families in long-term care facilities throughout Massachusetts.

As Wing Memorial grows to accommodate the needs of the community, the Center for Geriatric Psychiatry increases the number of acute care beds at the hospital from 59 to 74, which represents a 25{06cf2b9696b159f874511d23dbc893eb1ac83014175ed30550cfff22781411e5} increase. The CGP is located on Wing Memorial’s third floor, which was vacated when the hospital’s Medical/Surgical Unit moved into the new Country Bank Pavilion in June 2008. The eight-month, 11,000-square-foot renovation project cost nearly $1.5 million to complete and includes 11 private rooms, two semi-private rooms, an activity room, a dining room, and various areas especially adapted for geriatric purposes. The spacious CPG offers patients and families a comfortable healing environment to restore their mental health and resume daily activities.

To keep patients safe, the new center incorporates innovative safety and security measures. Each entrance to the CGP is electronically monitored, and access is controlled. All patients wear wrist bracelets that ensure they remain within the safety of the CGP’s therapeutic environment and alert staff of any attempt to wander. In addition, the CGP is equipped with 10 security cameras that are monitored by staff, who conduct safety rounds every 15 minutes.

In patient rooms, Wing Memorial has incorporated safety standards and regulations for geriatric psychiatry programs as designated by the state Departments of Public Health and Mental Health. These measures include secure ceiling tiles, windows, drawerless shelving for clothes, tamper-resistant bathroom fixtures, and other measures to ensure a safe environment of care.

Among the dignitaries who spoke at the celebration were John O’Brien, president and CEO of UMass Memorial Health Care; U.S. Rep. Richard Neal; state Sen. Stephen Brewer; state Representative Todd Smola; James Phaneuf, chairman of the Wing Memorial board of directors; and Steven Marcus, president of New England Geriatrics.

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