Elderly people with mental disorders will now receive specialised care with the opening of the new Geriatric Psychiatry Care Unit situated at the Witrand Hospital in the North West.
“This is the first of its kind in the province and it ushers a new era of quality mental health care services, not only to the people of Dr Kenneth Kaunda District Municipality, but to the residents of the North West Province as a whole,” said the Chief Executive Officer of the Witrand Hospital Naledi Mocwaledi-Senyane.
Geriatric psychiatry is a specialty of psychiatry dealing with the study, prevention, and treatment of mental disorders in people of old age, such as dementia.
The North West Department of Health also opened a Community Psychiatric Unit at Witrand Hospital.
The department spent over R147 million building the facilities. The Geriatric Psychiatry Care Unit has 38 beds while the Community Psychiatric Unit has 60 beds.
This newly-built state-of-the-art facilities will provide care and assessment to referral patients from across the province.
Mocwaledi-Senyane said both units will operate on a referral basis and during their stay patients will be assessed by specialists such as doctors, occupational therapists, geriatric psychiatrists, nurses, physiotherapists, rehabilitation assistants, pharmacists, social workers nurses and dieticians.
Health MEC Dr Magome Masike said health infrastructure has grown significantly since 1994.
“Every new financial year the department has been building new clinics and community health centres,” said MEC Masike adding that despite this his department still needed to do more.
“We have no time to rest in our quest to address health service delivery backlogs particularly in ensuring access to decent and quality health care services.
The MEC also urged the community to use primary health care facilities such as clinics and community health centres because not all illnesses need the services of a hospital and some can be treated at clinic level.
He encouraged communities and community leaders to look after the new facilities as they are essential to their health and that of the future generation.
MEC Masike said the department is serious about taking mental health services closer to communities.
Hospitals such as Mafikeng Provincial Hospital and Tshepong Hospital are now listed as 72-hour psychiatric observation units where only observations will be done.
MEC Masike said the purpose of the 72-hour assessment is to establish the cause of the patient’s symptoms. Patients are assessed daily by a medical doctor, psychiatric trained registered nurse and a psychiatrist.
This means that once the observation is completed, the patient will be transferred to the nearest designated hospital for further care, treatment and rehabilitation.
*Thebe Itumeleng works for the North West Department of Health.