MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - While there is growing concern nationwide surrounding mental health illness, Horry County’s first and only behavioral health unit affiliated with a hospital system is addressing the need for more services.
It’s been a busy and successful first two years at Grand Strand Health’s Behavioral Health unit at South Strand Medical Center, and leaders are continuing to grow the program. With an expansion to the intensive out-patient program, the center is now offering Horry County’s first out-patient Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP).
Dr. Christina Lynn, the center’s medical director, says PHP offers a flexible treatment option for patients who need a gradual transition from an in-patient stay or a more structured program without in-patient treatment. Through the program, patients can learn to develop effective strategies to help achieve emotional wellness by learning new ways to cope with behavioral health symptoms like stress, anxiety or depression.
Here’s how it works. The program starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs until 3 p.m., five days a week. Patients go through a combination of group and recreational therapy, and then are able to return home at night to be with family and their support system. During the program, patients also see a psychiatrist on a weekly basis. Lynn says a patient’s response to treatment is better when he or she has the convenience of remaining at home with loved ones in the evening. She added the goal is to identify adults before they’re in crisis or in the emergency room.
Lynn says the response so far of the PHP has been great. She says the program started with six patients and continues to grow with new patients each day.
According to Lynn, our area is in much need of these services and says the goal of the Behavioral Health unit is to help relieve the load off emergency rooms and provide patient’s faster service for treatment.
“There’s not a lot of providers in the area, so the area is very deficient in providers. Your next closest hospital is in Conway and then you have down in Charleston, there’s just not a lot. We pull patients from the Pee Dee area, we pull them from the North Carolina across the North Carolina line, we pull all the way from Georgetown, so all of these patients are coming this way because there are no services available,” said Lynn.
Right now, the in-patient unit has 20 beds. Hospital leaders hope to add more beds in the near future. In addition, with the mental health crisis among our youth on the rise, Lynn hopes to focus on youth programs as the center continues to grow its outpatient services.