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Sheridan VA Opens First-Of-Its-Kind Unit In Region

Catherine Wheeler

The Sheridan VA Medical Center will now be able to better address the needs of older veterans with mental health or age-related dementia challenges. That's thanks to its new geriatric behavioral health unit, which will be used to stabilize patients and allow them to return to their lives whether that's at home, assisted living center or other places of care.

The Eagle Living Center will serve patients living with complex and age-related dementia, Alzheimer's, and mental health conditions like schizophrenia, said Andrea Henderson, associate director for patient care services and the nurse executive.

"Veterans can come, get stabilized, medication management, behavioral management and then have that opportunity to return to a state veterans home, to their nursing home, to the skilled nursing units," she said.

Construction for the new building took two years, but the accreditation and regulatory process has taken longer. There will be 15 beds total in the center. They will start this month with one to five patients before fully opening the unit.

Pam Crowell, medical center director for the Sheridan VA, said this is a unique facility for the region.

"This is one of the firsts in the entire VA system. We are pioneering this new level of care called geriatric psychiatry, so we're super excited to be one of the firsts," Crowell said.

Crowell added that this facility will also accept patients from other VA in its region.

The new center will help to support the growing need for geriatric care across the state and region.

"So we have a strong focus on geriatrics and in mental health at the Sheridan VA. So, bringing those two components together in one building and subspecialty is incredible," Henderson said.

Henderson added the center will compliment other facilities in the region, such as the Veterans' Home of Wyoming in Buffalo.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler, at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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