HOLYOKE — Trauma-informed care rooted in cultural competence and compassionately delivered to support recovery of adolescents in psychiatric crisis was enhanced recently at MiraVista Behavioral Health Center with state-of-the art renovations to its 16-bed adolescent unit, which is now accepting new patients.
“We began an extensive upgrade in late summer after discharging the unit’s last patient to better incorporate required safety regulations into a healing care environment that allows for both patient socialization and comfort,” said Kimberley Lee, chief of Creative Strategy and Development. “We are very pleased with the outcome. Having worked with our own mental-health professionals, architects, and young people who have experience with psychiatric care, we feel very confident that our adolescent patients will also appreciate the effort that went into ensuring an environment which aesthetically and effectively meets their specific needs.”
MiraVista offers inpatient services in separate units for adults and adolescents and a range of outpatient substance-use programs. It opened under new ownership as MiraVista Behavioral Health Center in April 2021, and renovations to the interior and exterior have been ongoing since the building’s purchase.
Lee noted that studies have shown how an environment designed with healing in mind can both support those who deliver healthcare as well as ease patient symptoms.
Evidence-based therapies and treatments on the unit include educational programming, exercise and self-care, and a variety of group therapies, including music, art, and an array of age-appropriate topics focusing on physical and mental wellness. A team of specialty-trained providers works with each patient to assess and meet their individual requirements. The average stay of patients in the adolescent unit is between seven and 10 days.
“It is well known that spaces which promote comfort and reduce environmental stressors like noise and harsh lighting can contribute to healing, including reducing anxiety and depression and contributing to better patient outcomes,” Lee said. “Our renovated unit well reflects the compassionate and inclusive care provided by our providers to the unit’s adolescent patients. Our treatment teams are eager and excited to once again welcome youth to MiraVista.”
Among them is Khadene Harry-Stoby, MiraVista’s new adolescent nurse manager, whose love for working with this population started in New York at the Children’s Village, where she worked as a mental-health specialist. There, she learned how to look at each child outside of their behavior, understand their trauma, and try to provide an engaging, structured, and fun therapeutic environment.
“I am so very much looking forward to overseeing our adolescent treatment team as we continue to develop individualized milieu plans specifically catered to each adolescent in order to provide the best and highest quality therapeutic care,” she said. “Our programming at MiraVista will include a lot of ‘what’s trending’ for this population, which includes arts and crafts, movement groups, and poetry, just to name a few.”
Harry-Stoby added that, while MiraVista’s younger patients are frequently referred by other providers, the hospital is piloting a program for direct admissions to help individuals needing a psychiatric bed avoid an emergency-room stay.
“Our clinicians are able to provide pharmacological as well as therapeutic treatment for patients challenged by mental illness and who come from a diversity of backgrounds, including sexual orientation and gender identity,” Lee said. “Our social workers are able to support adolescent patients in meeting their educational, emotional, and development needs.”
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