Hospital opens new behavioral health unit



Tuesday, Feb. 27, was the official ribbon cutting on the Senior Behavioral Health Unit at Bristol Hospital. Construction on the unit began last summer, after the project was identified and approved in 2016.

Heading the unit is Dr. Genevieve A. Henry, a geriatric psychiatrist, who will be serving as the medical director of the unit. Henry was hired in January.

“The medical director oversees all of the psychiatric and medical care for patients who are admitted here,” said Henry. “I think this unit is going to be very unique in that it’s very patient-centered in its approach. I think we’re going to offer expert psycho-pharmacology, as I am a board-certified geriatric psychiatrist sub-specialist, which is not readily available, but also we have so much more than that; we have group therapy, we have all kinds of recreational and leisure activities, we have social works, so all kinds of support for families and for patients.”

Henry comes to Bristol Hospital after most recently serving as the associate director of consultative services and attending physician on the Inpatient Geriatric Psychiatry Unit at Masonicare Behavioral Health.

Director of Public Relations and Marketing Chris Boyle said the unit was born out of community need that was identified through a community health needs assessment.

“It’s kind of a blueprint of where we need to go from a strategic standpoint,” explained Boyle. “The four top areas that were identified are mental health and substance abuse, care for seniors, access to care, and diabetes. So, this unit accomplishes three of the needs, what the community really needs.”

Bristol Hospital’s Dr. Nachiyappan Manoharan will be working with Henry in overseeing the unit, working to ensure that patients receive continuous, quality care.

“The population is getting older in Bristol, and people are living longer,” said Manoharan. “There’s a real need for a geriatric psych unit. What we have been doing is that we’ve been sending them to other places and it’s very difficult for family to have to put them somewhere and have to go and visit: this will be amazing for that population.”

“Our mission is to really take care of the community we serve,” said Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital. “It really truly looked at the population that we serve and the gap that was there for this particular service was absolutely clear and overwhelming.”

Barwis said that seeing the unit complete is unbelievable.

“To be able to actually put all of the components together, this extraordinary team, and then to figure out how to come up with the money, this is a $5 million investment, at a time when we were challenged fiscally by the state of Connecticut, just speaks to the character of this community because the people that work here are from the community, they just dug down deep, as they always do, and they figured out how to make this happen,” said Barwis. “When you talk about the design elements that are in here, when you talk about the team that has been brought together, the qualifications of our geriatric psychiatrist, our community geriatric program, it’s just unbelievable.”

Approximately 15 new employees have been hired by the hospital to staff the Senior Behavioral Health Unit. Once fully operational, the unit will be able to accommodate 15 patients, but Barwis said they will begin with five patients when the unit officially opens.

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The ribbon is cut last Tuesday for the new Senior Behavioral Health Unit at Bristol Hospital.