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CVPH unveils bigger, better adult inpatient psychiatry unit

Published: Jun. 17, 2022 at 5:15 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - The Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh just built a bigger and better adult psychiatric unit. The new unit offers more space and more beds for those in crisis.

Staff at the new unit that opens Tuesday say this will make for a better stay for those seeking its services. It was designed with safety measures in mind and used feedback from patients for the design.

The 19,000-square-foot unit is home to 18 private rooms-- two more than the previous floor-- and three times bigger. It offers several lounge, exercise, family and activity areas that are left open for the patients to use at their leisure.

“We have a tremendous amount of more space for our patients so they can choose where they wish to be on the unit,” said Zachary Kowalczyk, the clinical educator manager for the new sixth-floor adult psychiatric unit and a registered nurse.

Everything on the floor has been thoroughly thought out, from the call lights to the door handles and chairs.

“They can’t be picked up; they are very heavy,” said Amanda Bulris-Allen of Champlain Valley NAMI.

Even the blinds...

“Open to see the patient is well, then we close it for their privacy,” Kowalczyk said.

There are several check-ins each hour.

It’s all to keep patient comfort and well-being at the forefront.

“We’re not trying to punish someone for how they feel but we do still need to promote safety,” Kowalczyk explained.

The plans for what staff call a necessary update have been in mind since 2002 are now finally coming to fruition thanks to community partners and state funding.

A patient in crisis who comes to the hospital will be evaluated and moved to the floor if deemed necessary.

The average stay for a patient is 5-10 days unless the patient’s needs require more time. Across the way, an outpatient facility helps them integrate back into life after their stay.

“Wouldn’t be a service that would be on every single patient’s needs, it’s truly for the cases who would truly benefit,” Kowalczyk said.

Bulris-Allen says the upgrade is needed and shows the hospital’s commitment to better mental health in the county.

“Opportunity to give patients and families a space like this is amazing,” she said.

Bulris-Allen hopes the new facility will help people leave with a better plan to tackle their recovery goals.

“People can and do recover, and a space like this provides the opportunity,” she said.

The hospital says they still have a 12-bed child and teen psychiatric unit as well, but that will remain on the fourth floor. The new until will be 18-plus.

With the backlog of needed beds in Vermont, I asked if the hospital would take in Vermont’s patients since the hospital is part of the UVM Health Network. They said because of differing intake state laws, it is only allowed to take in adolescents from Vermont.

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