New behavioral health unit becomes first in county affiliated with a hospital system

(Source: Holly DeLoache)
(Source: Holly DeLoache)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Before Friday, Horry County patients admitted to the hospital with psychiatric illness had nowhere to turn to seek additional help. With the addition of a new behavioral health unit to the Grand Strand health system, that's all changed.

"The Grand Strand is an under served community for mental health. In 2017 alone we saw over 3,000 patients in the emergency room with psychiatric illnesses. And those patients did not have a place to go," said Dr. Christina Lynn, Behavioral Health Medical Director.

Because the unit is connected to the hospital system, they're able to provide medical care as well as psychiatric care and serve a larger portion of the county.

Patients will be seen for conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, and more.

"We have medication management. You'll be seen 7 days a week by licensed psychiatrist, you'll have a case worker assigned to you as well as a social worker. When you're on our unit you'll be seen by the physician and all of those individuals. You'll be participating in groups and individual therapy. You'll learn coping skills, medication management skills, you'll learn education about your disorder," Dr. Lynn said.

Most patients stay an average of 5-7 days, which Dr. Lynn says is enough time to start medication and make sure it's working.

The facility will also work with the patient's family and friends to ensure they have support outside of their walls.

Right now, they do not accept walk-in patients because of their connection to the hospital, however, Dr. Lynn said that is one of their goals for the future. The 20-bed facility also hopes to expand.

"We are typically going to be pulling patients from our emergency rooms as well as from our hospital. We will be accepting referrals from physicians as we continue to grow. Hopefully eventually we'll have enough beds that we can take walk ins from the community but at this point we've got to limit to our emergency rooms and physicians in our community," she said.

Their main goal is to ensure patients get the best treatment tailored to meet their needs.

"Our goal is to get the patients treatment, so however we can do that, the fastest and most efficient way is what we're going to do. If that's bringing them to us, they will be here. If we don't have the space we will get them somewhere," Dr. Lynn said.

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