Signature Psychiatric Hospital ready to open at Liberty Hospital

By Kellie Houx

LIBERTY — Signature Psychiatric Hospital will open officially Saturday, March 24. On that day, the hospital within Liberty Hospital can start taking patients.

“We anticipate that we will receive patients on that first day,” said Carrie Dermody, director of nursing. “Our North Kansas City Hospital location is always full, and often we are seeking other facilities for patients. I have even had med techs come in and stay all night in a waiting room to help a patient.”

Dermody has been with Signature since the North Kansas City Hospital facility opened in September 2013.

Signature Marketing Director Brenda Clevenger said the Liberty location has been in the works for two years. With the addition of Liberty, the employee count has moved from 100 to 150.

“One thing we all know is that through community assessments, mental health needs rise to the top,” she said.

The facility in Liberty has 36 beds with 18 for adults and 18 for seniors.

A recent open house offered community members an opportunity to see the facility because once patients are admitted, the facility will be closed to most of the public unless they are part of family therapy for a patient.

“We will have individual treatment and therapy, but there is also group therapy,” Dermody said. “We keep patients busy. We try to think outside the box for them. There’s pet therapy and music therapy. We have yoga and physical activities. We start rebuilding that confidence.”

She explained that many patients come in lacking a routine or with a routine that seems topsy-turvy.

“I have been a psychiatric nurse for almost 20 years, and I have noticed that we have created some of the best treatment modalities,” she said. “We get patients established in a routine again. Often we have patients who sleep all day and are up at night. The schedule we create helps return a routine. We have family involvement and strong after care. It’s a treatment plan that works for the individual.”

Dermody said the average length of stay is 10 to 14 days. However, the team judges progress and won’t discharge anyone who is not ready.

“It used to be an average of three to five days,” she said. “That’s not long enough. It resulted in a lot of readmissions. We know that the therapy here works.”

Along with the Liberty opening, the North Kansas City Hospital facility is adding 12 more beds.

“We would often look as far as Topeka (Kansas) or St. Louis for beds to help people,” Dermody said. “The NKC facility also has the Valor program, which helps veterans who have PTSD and other trauma. It’s a 30-day program.”

Liberty Area Chamber of Commerce Chairman Roger Mose called the psychiatric hospital a welcome addition to the community.

Signature Chief Executive Officer Lisa St. Aubyn also applauded the working relationship with Liberty Hospital staff.

“At the North Kansas City campus, we are full every day,” she said. “We don’t like to send people outside of the community. This will be a plus to us all.”