Pomegranate Health Systems opened its doors for residential treatment to adolescents with mental and behavioral health disorders in Columbus, Ohio, February of 2008 and has treated over 1000 residential clients since then.
The 44,000 square foot building was ‘state of the art’ for residential treatment of adolescents with mental and behavioral health disorders. The engineering firm focused on constructing a rugged facility as you’d build a middle or senior high school, designed to take heavy traffic. At the same time, warm-toned wood furniture, lighter colors and more comfortable elements were chosen because teens were going to be living there, even for a short term of 3-6 months at a time. Think: college dorm. In 2010, the acute hospital was added. Ohio Department of Mental Health has additional standards and requirements specifically designed for suicidal and homicidal teens, for personal safety-to prevent self-harm and harm of others.
In 2012, a renovation master plan was put in place after an initial consult with Mosaic Design, an interior design firm specializing in healthcare facilities. ‘My ongoing vision for Pomegranate is to continue to improve the physical environment from simple walls and corridors with a more institutional appearance to a facility that offers a warm and inviting appearance for those we serve. We’ve learned what works over the past five years, and created a wish list of what we’d like next. There is a lot of wear and tear that takes place in a 24/7 facility, 365 days a year. Our renovations are continuous and improvements ongoing from the generator to the fire alarms to the kitchen to the gym to bedrooms to the main day rooms,’ says John Hedrick, Facilities Director.
<p>“What stands out most between then and now is the level of care. It’s intensive. In the beginning we were learning how to deal with seriously troubled kids, adolescents, and provide a full continuum of services. Recently, we see more children who are victims of abuse, neglect and bullying- certainly signs of the times. What stands out for me is the quality of our clinical staff, led by Demetra Taylor, who has taken our reputation as the ‘answer’ to a new level of excellence. The organization and execution of programming maintains the overall focus for those we serve to successfully transition back into the community. The intensity of therapy, treatment, and programming can be measured (in a positive manner) almost on a daily basis,’ Hedrick adds.
In 2012, Angela Nickell was appointed CEO from VP of Operations. She says, “The corporate culture here is like family; respecting one another and providing a healthy environment goes for everyone. The people here are hard-working, passionate, caring staff who strive every day to provide the best care possible to our kids.” Doctor Sathappan, Medical Director, and President of Pomegranate Health Systems said what stands out most between then and now is maturity. “Maturity in programming, maturity of staff, maturity of culture. Pomegranate is being recognized as a key provider of mental health services. New services like acute hospitalization have been added. These are stable programs. We’re growing, and I see leadership- with vision, across the management team.”
Angela continued, ‘My vision for Pomegranate is to be known for the excellent care we provide; to continue to have patients/residents who leave finally understand what ‘healthy mental health’ actually feels like.’ The next question was, what’s on the horizon . . . (what are you excited about)? “That would be expanding in the future to meet the needs of the community with our new juvenile competency program and also, out-patient services,” she continued. Sathappan added, ‘Consistent integrated treatment is key to decreasing recidivism.’
For CPST Heather, seeing a resident recently graduate and be accepted to Wittenberg was a great joy. For art therapist Darci, and acute therapist Amy, having an acute patient develop a mission to prevent bullying and raise money for the non-profit, ‘To Write Love on Her Arms’ through a successful public art show was inspiring. The patient returned to deliver an inspiring artwork in appreciation of her new-found vision and hope, which was a highlight of 2012.
This is difficult work. To assist teens with significant mental and behavioral health disorders, stabilize crises on a daily basis and provide hope and healing is not everyone’s calling in life. It takes patience, dedication and consistency in the face of unique and unforeseen challenges and obstacles. There’s a great need in the community, and for the teens at Pomegranate Health Systems, the time is now, with (a hopefully more responsible) adulthood on the horizon. That’s their choice, and the option we hold out to them. Here’s to a promising next five years!
[Photo credit: author-Pomegranate exterior photo, May 2011]