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Heritage Program for Seniors at VCHS Earns High Patient Satisfactory Score, Addresses Rural Mental Health Needs

ORD, Neb. – The Heritage Program for Seniors at Valley County Health System (VCHS) earned a 97 percent overall patient satisfaction score during the most recent quarter, highlighting the organization’s continued efforts to address the mental health conditions of older adults in central Nebraska.

The Heritage Program for Seniors at VCHS is an individualized, outpatient behavioral health program for adults age 55-plus. The program offers confidential counseling services in both group and individual sessions for patients from throughout central Nebraska who are dealing with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. The program satisfaction scores were taken from regular quarterly (April – June 2017) patient discharge surveys, which include questions ranging from understanding treatment plans to perceived progress during the program.

“Our focus at the Heritage Program is to help, and empower, our patients to get well – to restore optimal mental and emotional health. The strong patient satisfaction score reflects our continued success in creating a welcoming and comfortable therapeutic environment that enables them to do just that,” Heritage Program Mental Health Therapist Riley Smith, PLCSW, PLMHP said.

Nationwide, according to the American Psychological Association, rural areas traditionally lack in accessibility and availability of mental health services compared to urban areas, despite having populations with equal – if not greater – prevalence of mental illness.

“By offering geriatric mental health services through the Heritage Program, VCHS is once again demonstrating its leadership in rural healthcare and commitment to our patients’ overall wellbeing,” Smith said.

Medical providers or any concerned individual may refer themselves or someone to the program. Heritage staff will meet with the referred individual to discuss program details and the admission process.

“After trying to deal with grief, anger and isolation issues on my own, I returned to the Heritage Program for assistance to get better,” a recent self-referred Heritage Program patient from Loup City, Neb., said.  “There is nothing to be afraid of in asking for help. Focus on getting yourself well. I can’t say enough good things about the Heritage Program in helping me manage and get better […] everyone is here to support each other.”

Patient therapy groups meet every day, Monday through Friday, with most program participants attending two days a week. Hours are typically 11 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Individual and family appointments are scheduled as needed. Heritage also provides transportation to and from group sessions, caregiver support and community education. 

In addition to Smith, Macaela Haas, PLMHP, as well as Kendra Mach and Amber Schulenberg, mental health technicians, work with Heritage Program patients. Consulting psychiatrists Kavir Saxena, MD, and Sriram Ramaswamy, MD, along with psychiatric nurse practitioner Trish Lenz, APRN, provide program oversight, medication management and care coordination. 

For more information about the Heritage Program for Seniors at VCHS, call 308.728.4340 or visit www.valleycountyhealthsystem.org/medical-services/heritage-program-for-seniors.

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Pictured: Heritage Program for Seniors at VCHS