Innovative therapies, more rooms added to behavioral health center

UCHealth’s Mountain Crest to showcase building remodel, expanded services during Sept. 15 open house
Aug. 31, 2016

Over the past several months, UCHealth’s Mountain Crest Behavioral Health Center has been getting a facelift — new roof, exterior paint and remodeled patient rooms. But it’s not just cosmetic upgrades happening at the center. Mountain Crest also has amplified its services.

“We have converted 14 residential rooms into hospital acute care beds,” said Monica Smith, director of Mountain Crest. “This required many safety features to be added in, and cosmetic updates gave the facility a home-like touch while our new outside patios give patients an opportunity to enjoy the Colorado sun and fresh air.”

The center recently expanded from 26 acute care beds to 34 with the capability of 41 beds if needed, she said. The expansion was made possible because of grants that include Denver Foundation and Colorado Health Access Fund.

Mt. Crest_outdoor area_monica
Mountain Crest was able to create outdoor space for patients thanks to fundraising events.

Patients admitted to inpatient beds usually stay at Mountain Crest for three to five days, during which time they get intensive treatment that includes individual and group therapy and family sessions. A specific plan also is created that includes follow-up appointments and lower levels of support for when that person leaves the facility.

“Mountain Crest provides a level of care that very few psychiatric hospitals offer,” Smith said. “And our goal here is to provide the proper services in the proper place.”

Earlier this year, the center beefed up its nursing staff to better handle more acute cases and expanded its resources to address medical detox and wound care.

Recently, Mountain Crest also added occupational therapy to its services and started a more hands-on group therapy class. Both are part of the center’s intensive inpatient program.

“We are interested in reducing any barrier that is in the way of patients completing everyday activities or the responsibilities they have,’ said Leanna Noonan, an occupational therapist who recently started holding several group sessions per week at the center. “It’s not just talking. We identify barriers and depending on what those are, do activities to help support reducing those barriers.”

This may include focusing on posture to reduce pain and addressing physical development by demonstrating how to engage the core while doing every day activities, she said.

Therapist Meredith Vasa also is leading more active therapy sessions, using experiential group therapy at the center.

“Experiential learning is where the rubber meets the road,” Vasa said. “It takes the theory and puts it into practice.”

She said that instead of talking about new breathing techniques and their effectiveness, she sits down with patients and has them practice those techniques. This is important because using these skills while in a crisis mode takes practice.

“We take practical skills and practice them in a nonthreatening, therapeutic environment so that they become learned skills for the future,” Vasa said. “Once you give people the tools that they need, you give them the ability to improve.”

Monica Smith, director of behavioral health at Mountain Crest, shows off a new outdoor area for patients.

Along with its intensive inpatient program, Mountain Crest continues to offer its intensive outpatient program. This includes a daytime substance use relapse prevention program in addition to its evening program. It also offers an adult psychiatric intensive outpatient program that focuses on psychiatric issues.

An adolescent intensive outpatient program provides families with a unique service because it picks children up from school and provides dinner and group therapy, eliminating disruption of parents’ work schedules.

“While many programs have scaled back the treatment patients receive on site, we have maintained the standards of patient- and family-centered care,” Smith said.

Smith is showcasing the upgraded facility, as well as its services, to medical professionals from 1 to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 at the center, 4601 Corbett Dr., Fort Collins. For more information contact Sara Tcheshie at 970.207.4801.

About the author

Kati Blocker has always been driven to learn and explore the world around her. And every day, as a writer for UCHealth, Kati meets inspiring people, learns about life-saving technology, and gets to know the amazing people who are saving lives each day. Even better, she gets to share their stories with the world.

As a journalism major at the University of Wyoming, Kati wrote for her college newspaper. She also studied abroad in Swansea, Wales, while simultaneously writing for a Colorado metaphysical newspaper.

After college, Kati was a reporter for the Montrose Daily Press and the Telluride Watch, covering education and health care in rural Colorado, as well as city news and business.

When she's not writing, Kati is creating her own stories with her husband Joel and their two young children.