Allegheny Valley Hospital to shift adult mental health services to geriatric patients only

Adults in the Alle-Kiski Valley seeking mental health care will no longer be able to access inpatient services at Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison.

From Monday, the facility along Carlisle Street will be relocated to provide extended psychiatric services to geriatric patients only.

“We are not closing the unit but rather changing its focus,” said Dan Laurent, vice president of corporate communications.

“We have found that the demand for geriatric psychiatry services is much higher in the geography served by the Allegheny Valley than for general adult services.”

People aged 60 and over will be treated at the AVH.

Young adults will be referred to Forbes Hospital in Monroeville or Jefferson Hospital in Jefferson Hills.

According to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, the number of adults in the United States who have received mental health treatment has increased significantly during the pandemic.

The percentage rose from 19.2% in 2019 to 20.3% in 2020 and then to 21.6% in 2021, according to the report.

In many cases, local police are responsible for transporting patients in need.

Some, like Harrison Police Chief Michael Klein, believe AHN’s decision has the potential to create serious roadblocks for law enforcement in the Valley.

“It makes no sense to me, logically or operationally,” said Klein, who has been with the force for nearly 40 years.

“It’s not just about going to the hospital where we’ve always been. It is about being able to maintain contact and availability in or near our own communities.

Klein said transporting patients to Monroeville or beyond takes duty officers to their local beats for long periods of time.

Springdale Chief Derek Dayoub added that transporting a combative person a longer distance can add distress.

“If someone is violent, it’s a long way to go,” Dayoub said.

“A lot of times we get calls and someone wants to enlist. We still have to transport them for their safety and get them the care they need. For smaller departments, it takes a toll on the workforce. work to be immobilized longer.

The Allegheny Health Network’s move is intended to streamline services, Laurent said. It comes in response to growing demand.

“We are taking steps to reorganize and optimize the psychiatric and behavioral health care we provide at various facilities to better meet the specific health needs and demographics of the communities they serve,” he said.

Eric Meyer, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, studies mental health treatment, including access and delivery methods.

He said access is “extremely important” for people in need and barriers tend to reduce use.

At the same time, he said, the increase in alternative ways of delivering services is staggering.

“Virtual processing is not watered down,” Meyer said.

Research that compares the same treatment delivered online and in person has shown an identical impact, Meyer said.

“As long as people are open to it, I would encourage video conferencing or other methods,” he said. “There is no difference in its effectiveness.”

Allegheny Valley Hospital will be the only AHN facility in southwestern Pennsylvania to provide specialized geriatric psychiatric care.

The decision will displace a “small number” of AVH employees, Laurent said.

Anyone concerned and eligible can apply for other positions across the network.

Children and adolescents seeking inpatient psychiatry programs are served at Western Psych in Oakland and Southwood in the South Hills.

Tawnya Panizzi is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Tawnya by email at tpanizzi@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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