CVMC wins award for senior behavioral unit (The Daily Home)

SYLACAUGA – The Coosa Valley Medical Center has won yet another national award, this time courtesy of the hospital’s senior behavioral unit.

Zac Al-Khateeb/The Daily Home (From left) Tracey Smith, unit secretary; Lauren Janzen, social worker; LaMadre Jemison, RN; Tammy Newman, RN; LaJuana Webb, senior program director; and Nancy Dickson, community education manager; won the 2014 Community Education Program of the Year Award for the CVMC for their work in treating and educating people about behavioral disorders.The unit won the 2013 Community Education Program of the Year Award, beating out over 100 nominated behavioral health units of all sizes across the country. The award was presented by Horizon Health, one of the nation’s premier behavioral health management companies.

The CVMC’s senior behavioral unit is a 15-bed program that started in the hospital in August of 2008. It focuses primarily on patients 65 and older who exhibit varying forms of dementia and behavioral disorders, and has grown extensively since it started six years ago.

LaJuana Webb, senior program director for the unit, said she was excited to bring another award to CVMC. Webb said she was pleased to contribute to a hospital with a reputation for success.

“I’ve only been here a year, a little over a year, and there’s already been so many awards since I’ve been here,” Webb said. “So, it feels really good to know that, hey, we’re helping, kind of join in with the rest of the crew, and be one of those people that gets the award, which makes the hospital shine.”

The unit won the award based on a number of factors, including its customer service culture – both in the hospital and in the community – its fast and efficient referral system and, perhaps most importantly, its extensive community outreach.

Many members of the unit travel throughout the area, educating people on the various forms of dementia and their differences. They also educate people on the warning signs for dementia, suicide and behavioral disorders.

That is one of the primary jobs of Nancy Dickson, the unit’s community education manager. She, along with the nurses, social workers and team effort,” Dickson said. “We do a lot of community education, in terms of letting the people know – we’ll go out into nursing homes, into assisted living facilities, senior centers – and share about dealing with difficult behaviors, and warning signs for suicide. Just warning signs for Alzheimer’s and what’s the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s. So those are the things that we are really out in the community.”

Amy Price, chief operating officer and chief nursing officer at CVMC, lauded the work by Dickson and her staff to spread knowledge about behavioral health to the community.

“Our community education program coordinator, Nancy Dickson, does outstanding work with helping patients and families gain access to our services,” Price said. “Nancy and our team foster a culture of customer service and are involved at every level in our community.”

The CVMC’s latest award is part of a growing trend for people to better look at mental health issues as real, diagnosable medical issues, not something to be ashamed of, as has been in the past.

Regardless, Webb said she was pleased with the unit’s ability to provide excellent care and spread knowledge throughout the community and among themselves.

“Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen what they do and how it’s just so patient-focused, and to me that’s just really important,” Webb said. “It’s so nice to see our units are helping with that.”