POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 4, 2013:
Navigating the Road to Recovery
Psych facility offers wide variety of programs
The staff at Parkside Psychiatric hospital, 1228 S. Trenton Ave., is not only concerned with the patients' mental wellbeing. They focus on treating the whole person and use innovative services to accomplish that goal.
The nonprofit hospital, a fixture in Tulsa since 1959, is divided into three sections: outpatient care, a hospital with a 24-hour entrance, and residential treatment for children and adolescents.
It is the only nonprofit, freestanding psychiatric hospital that serves both children and adults in Tulsa.
Eric Sachua, director of development, said Parkside is always looking for new ways to enhance the living quality of their patients.
"We do serve people from all across the Tulsa metro area," he said. "All different age groups, all different income levels -- we do have a large population of outpatients that are financially challenged."
Blue Tongues Mean Happy Lizards. Apparently. Animal therapist Peggy Kelley uses Abby and other exotic pets in her practice at Parkside.
Parkside serves patients starting at the age of six and treats everything from depression to anxiety to coming to terms with childhood trauma, mental health diagnoses, substance abuse, and more.
To better meet the needs of its patients, the hospital conducts a satisfaction survey twice a year. In the survey, one of the questions asks patients what their yearly household income is. Sachua said that about 60 percent of patients have household incomes of $10,000 or less.
"A lot of people are dealing with some serious challenges in their lives," he said. "We heard from clients that they were worried about feeding their kids and taking care of their families."
As a result, the hospital started its food pantry program. The food pantry is well stocked with staple food items and toiletries that Sachua said can't be bought with food stamps or supplemental nutrition assistance.
The food pantry is largely funded by employee contribution, as well as donations from the community and other agencies.
"The food pantry is an effort to improve the overall quality of life for our patients," Sachua said. "We're doing more than just providing good clinical services. We're looking at whole lives and helping them to improve that by mitigating worries about feeding their kids."
Patients can access the food pantry once a month for everyone in the household. Emergency baby boxes, containing things such as diapers and formula, are available to patients as well.
In the corner of the food pantry is a large pile of books. "We want to foster reading," Sachua said. "If we find that a household has children, they also get a book, so a kid can have a new book that is theirs."
In addition to the food pantry, patients have access to the hospital's thrift shop. The thrift shop is stocked with everything from jewelry to dishes to clothing. Patients pay half of what each item is marked and the little money that is generated from the thrift shop (as well as the vending machines on campus) funds the food pantry.
"Patients can get something for whatever pennies that have in their pockets, rather than us just giving them something. It's an investment for them, it means a little bit more," Sachua said.
Parkside also assists patients in need with medication and transportation.
In the hospital section of Parkside, patients can be admitted 24 hours a day. The hospital boasts a recreation room and classrooms for children."It's a Tulsa Public Schools site," Sachua said. "We sure don't want to see a child that's dealing with some problems to fall behind in school. Sometimes, school is part of the problem too. We have smaller and staff intensive classrooms, so students can get some help and go back and be successful in their home classroom."
Across the street are Parkside's residential treatment areas for children and adolescents. One of the residential areas has a zoo with animals that both the children and adults enjoy.
Peggy Kelley, a licensed professional counselor certified in animal assisted therapy, strongly believes in using animals to help patients in their therapy.
"I think it's huge," she said. "It doesn't matter if it's substance abuse, it doesn't matter what kind of treatment they're doing -- it gives them something else neutral to focus on. They can talk about their feelings through the animals."
In Kelley's office, a Siamese cat named Sonny roamed around on her desk and around the cages of a three-legged bearded dragon and a hissing cockroach. Kelley's voice was full of enthusiasm as she described the animals as "awesome" and talked about the therapeutic properties of the cockroach.
"She kind of breaks a lot of ice, kids love them. People make assumptions that everything that's a bug is nasty and gross," she said.
Down the hall is the zoo, a place that bunny rabbits, fish, snails, a guinea pig, a hedge hog, barking frogs, large tortoises, and more call home.
Kelley said that passing around the animals during therapy helps the kids relax and open up more. She explained that children can relate to the different personalities of the animals.
Providing Sustenance on the Cheap. Parkside food pantry manager Willie Roundtree works the cans, helping Parkside patients provide for themselves.
Picking up the lion-headed bunny, she said, "He looks soft and sweet, but he's naughty, and the kids can relate to it."
The animal therapy program has been at the hospital for quite some time, but a recent grant from the Children's Medical Charities Association helped Parkside to expand the program.
"Pet therapy is just one innovative therapy we use. We also have a registered art therapist on staff.... We have lots of different approaches to individual therapy to touch different populations," Sachua said.
In addition to its outstanding patient care, the hospital offers education opportunities for employees and the community. It was named one of the "100 Great Places to Work in Healthcare in 2013" by Becker's Hospital Review.
"Education is a big part of our mission," said Sachua.
More than anything, Parkside cares about its patients and helping them work through their problems through its patient assistance programs and innovative therapies so that they can lead healthy, happy lives.
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