Hospitals and psychiatric centers made tough decisions as the pandemic unfolded.
The early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic were rife with challenges for inpatient psychiatric care. Neither the open layouts found in many psychiatric units and facilities nor the traditional elements of inpatient treatment, such as group therapy, were conducive to infection control, yet psychiatric patients who tested positive for the virus still needed care. To meet the demand, some hospitals and inpatient psychiatric centers converted units that were in low demand into units specifically for psychiatric patients who tested positive for COVID-19.
Hartford Hospital in Hartford, Conn., turned a six-bed children’s unit into a COVID-19 psychiatric unit after other options were deemed unsatisfactory, said John Santopietro, M.D., the senior vice president of Hartford HealthCare and physician-in-chief of the Behavioral Health Network.
“We had three choices: We could admit COVID-positive psychiatric patients to medical units with [care by] consultation-liaison psychiatrists, admit COVID-19-positive psychiatric patients to general psychiatric units and keep them isolated, or create a COVID-positive psychiatric unit,” Santopietro told Psychiatric News.