A new long-term care facility for older adults in Allegheny County could be the first of its kind, according to local mental health professionals. It will serve aging patients living with neurological and psychiatric conditions.
The 45-bed unit at Kane-Glen Hazel Regional Care Center in Hazelwood provides a nursing home environment while also treating the special emotional and physical needs of patients, including those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia.
Lalith Solai, chief of geriatric psychiatry at UPMC, said that mental health patients are living longer than before, creating a need.
"They're needing nursing home level of care, and there's a huge number of people that'll continue to need it," Solai said. "This will be a need all across the nation, not just in Allegheny County."
Solai said many nursing homes will not take in older adults with special physical or emotional needs because they require specialized, hospital-level care. The Glen-Hazel unit is not meant to be an alternative to an inpatient psychiatric unit, but is also located inside the hospital.
"I've actually gone to national meetings to find out if there's another unit like this across the nation, and I can tell you to my knowledge there is none," Solai said. "So we're actually setting a trend that is going to fill a need in the near future."