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Complex Care for Behavioral Health Comorbidities Seen to Lower LOS

By Jennifer Thew RN  
   October 03, 2017

A small hospital's patient-centered treatment unit designated for patients with coexisting medical and behavioral health issues is showing reductions in length of stay.

"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet." That line from a Rudyard Kipling poem is a good explanation of the way healthcare has typically viewed medical issues and behavioral health issues.

But the reality is the two do not exist in separate realms. They can, and do, occur simultaneously and each can have a profound impact on the other.

To address this reality and improve patient care, Reading Hospital in Pennsylvania opened a medical complexity unit for patients who have primary medical diagnoses and a psychiatric comorbidity.

The 19-bed unit opened on June 26, 2017 and is medically comanaged by psychiatry and the organization's hospitalist program. Ann Blankenhorn, RN, MSN, MBA, NEA-BC, is the facility's senior nursing director.

"We wanted to look at safety and efficiency, and we wanted to look at a holistic approach to care—that we were caring for the whole person not just their pneumonia or their cellulitis. We wanted to make sure we weren't missing any of the psychosocial components or the psychiatric diagnoses that they many have had," she says.

Jennifer Thew, RN, is the senior nursing editor at HealthLeaders.

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