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Technology brings ‘freedom’ to behavioral health

Bruce Franklin/Press-Herald

Minden Medical Center’s Geriatric Behavioral Health department is taking on a high tech program and new name to better serve the needs of their patients. Freedom Behavioral Health will be the new name and program used by the department.

The Freedom program will allow inpatient access to a doctor around the clock through video conferencing technology.
“It provides access where access normally wouldn’t be available immediately,” President of Psychiatric Services Jason Reed explained.

The program provides the Minden area with access to a highly trained inpatient mental health physician, Garrett Ryder MD. Ryder has over 25 years of experience in geriatric behavioral health services in an inpatient setting. He is a graduate of LSU Shreveport and resides in Lake Charles, Louisiana. There are physicians on location but this function of the program is performed electronically through video conferencing.

The program also offers Access Serenity which allows distant site individuals to stay connected and involved with patients in the program via teleconferencing.

“We’ve incorporated new techniques to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the patients not only in our immediate area but the outlying areas as well, which we haven’t done in the past,” Minden Medical Center CEO Greg Pearson said.

“We’re going to be able to expand and deliver our services to a broader range of people in the community,” Reed said.

TeleMental Health Services is related to better patient outcomes. This program has been built through 24 hospitals over 15 years through a joint commission, accreditation, and national surveys.

“[Telemental Health Services] was proven to be twice as effective because you are able to get an experienced service provider instead of whoever is available locally,” Reed said.

Pearson expects the changes to enhance the service provided to patients in the Geriatric Behavioral Health Department.

“It gives us the ability to bring a very qualified, highly trained inpatient psychiatrist who can even better meet the needs of our patients, which we would not necessarily be able to recruit here if they were on site all the time.

It also gives us the ability to have access to him 24/7 while physicians that are on staff are not here all of the time,” Pearson said.

The program will roll out in the months ahead.

“It’s a full program with policies, procedures, and training. Every staff member will be trained by a seasoned, experienced veteran in this process,” Reed said.

The Geriatric Behavioral Health Department serves patients ages 55 and older who have behavioral health needs. Their services include psychiatric evaluation, therapies to teach healthy coping techniques, medication evaluation, group therapy, medical assessment, and nutritional assessment and education.

“This is not an ownership change. We’re simply rebranding and implementing the Freedom program into our already successful hospital,” Pearson said.

Freedom Behavioral Services will use a holistic approach to care which educates patients as well as their family and caregivers to provide continued support.

“It provides us a specialized focus in the geriatric behavioral health world from a programming standpoint,” Reed said.