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A holistic approach to inpatient pediatric physical and mental health treatment

Holistic healthcare — an approach to medicine that focuses on overall physical and mental wellbeing — is slowly becoming an accepted industry standard. While addressing medical issues and helping patients heal physically will always be important, the practice of treating the whole patient, in addition to their medical needs, has shown to be beneficial to both patients and their families in the recovery process.

Nexus Children’s Hospital focuses on addressing both physical and behavioral issues and providing patients and/or caregivers with the resources and tools to help them in every facet of recovery. “Our patient population is expanding to include more patients with psychiatric and behavioral challenges,” said Max Arzola, LCSW, Counseling Services Program Manager at Nexus Children’s Hospital. “We already have an established program for physical, occupational, and speech therapy, and are working on expanding our counseling and behavioral health services to provide a holistic way to treat each child’s needs.”

As a clinical social worker, Max implements and manages Nexus Children’s Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Medical Psychiatric Program. He specializes in helping patients and their families gain access to resources and understanding the environment patients come from to help them heal. “I think the key to holistic healthcare is setting up our patients for success not only during their stay at the facility but also after they discharge,” Max said. This process involves analyzing a patient’s family dynamics and identifying any obstacles to continued recovery they may face when returning home from their stay at the inpatient facility. “There’s always going to be an adjustment,” said Max. “My job is to help parents and caretakers understand that they’ll need to change their behavior to adjust to their child’s recovery and newfound independence and ensure that it continues.”

Traditional inpatient therapies at Nexus Children’s Hospital ensure that patients can overcome the medical challenges they faced when they arrived at the facility. But with behavioral health services and counseling, children receive the mental and emotional support they need to become more independent, with improved self-monitoring and coping strategies.

This support starts with admission, when Max performs a comprehensive consult on each patient with the assistance of the program’s medical director, child and adolescent psychiatrist, and clinical neuropsychologist. During this assessment, the staff determines the types of behavioral health services needed to meet the goals of the patient’s master treatment plan.

Throughout their stay at Nexus Children’s Hospital, patients participate in a variety of mental health interventions in both an individual and group setting, such as cognitive and dialectal behavioral therapy. Each patient’s care team works to create an individualized daily schedule designed to help them successfully transition back to home, school, and community settings. Depending on the patient’s master treatment plan, most daily schedules include counseling services, rehabilitation and recreational therapy, group activities, academics, and outdoor recreation.

As they prepare to return home, Nexus works to provide their families with resources in their communities for the ongoing healing process.

“We’re working on developing support groups for families at the facility,” said Max. “A lot of our patients come from different states as well, so we educate families on what’s available to them in their own communities, where they can find and build support.”

Nexus Children’s Hospital’s efforts to provide holistic care benefits patients and families by adequately preparing them for the road of ongoing healing ahead. “I think our approach is a model for where healthcare can go,” said Max. “We offer so many services with a variety of different professionals who collaborate together and work as a cohesive unit.”

“The idea that you can access a variety of treatments in the same building is important,” he continued. “It’s crucial for families who don’t necessarily have the resources to go to multiple doctors or facilities to treat their child.”

To learn more about Nexus Children’s Hospital’s behavioral health services, click here.

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