South Florida Hospital News
Friday May 14, 2021

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December 2004 - Volume 1 - Issue 5

Healthy Connections Connects With Patients

Many clinics offer therapy for patients suffering from psychiatric disorders, but the founders of Healthy Connections Community Mental Health Center, Inc. believe their Center is distinctive. The reason is that it was founded by four knowledgeable, experienced and caring clinicians.

"That's what makes us unique, that we were all in the field," says Beatriz Martinez, one of the four owners. We run our Center in a different way. We know first-hand the needs of the patients and we know how the needs are met."

Along with Martinez, Jessy Sadovnik, Prince Drago, and Lourdes Badia opened Healthy Connections about three years ago. As colleagues they decided to open up a Community Mental Health Center and established their own clinical vision, seeking always for the best care of the patient. Sadovnik said, "We're preserving the patients' dignity, and caring for the patient. We saw how they were sometimes mistreated at other places and we figured that appropriate patient care facilitates a prompt recovery."

The principle behind the Center is to provide a partial hospitalization program. Martinez explained that the program is for people with mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, etc. "We treat them so that they can either avoid going to a hospital, or as a step-down from a psychiatric hospitalization to help them continue to stabilize when they go home," she said.

Patients can either be referred by another physician, or they can come in on their own to be evaluated by a psychiatrist at the Center; but in the latter case, the patient must already have a psychiatric history to be admitted to the program.

Martinez said about 70 percent of the patients are geriatric and most live at home with their families, although a small number live at assisted-living residences.

According to Martinez, one of the problems particularly facing the geriatric patients is depression. "The older ones are often isolated and they suffer from loneliness, they often wish they were dead," she said, "but they don't even know they're clinically depressed."

One of the things the Center does for the patients is to provide transportation. Martinez said they have three drivers who cover areas from North Miami Beach to South Miami. In some cases, however, participants in the program may be brought in by a family member or friend. Sadovnik then described a typical day at the clinic: After patients are picked up at their homes, they are brought to the Center for breakfast. They then participate in group sessions, or individual sessions if their particular case calls for that. Three interactive sessions are available, lunch follows that, and then the patients are taken home.

The program runs Mondays through Fridays, and Healthy Connections also has an Intensive Outpatient Program which runs two times per week. "They come here for two days, and we encourage them to do something the other three daysóreach out to family or friends, or go to an activity center."

And what type of reaction has the Center received regarding its programs? "The feedback has been excellent," Martinez said. "When they come here, they don't want to leave. They love coming to the program, and a lot of those people go out and brings others in."

Drago added, "Once they're here, when they receive treatment they identify the steps they can take to help others. They go out into the community and they become the educators, they can reach out to others."

Martinez said the average length of time a patient stays with the program is one to one-and-a-half months. "That's just an average; sometimes it might be just a week," she pointed out.

The positive reaction of the patients is not surprising considering how much care the owners put into their program. "We try very hard," Martinez agreed. "We have an excellent staff, a hand-picked staff of about 14 or 15, including us."

The combination of the owners and the staff, and the care with which they work, creates positive results for the patients.

For more information call Healthy Connections at 305.646.0112.
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