Q&A with Dr. Tammy Torres
SMC is proud to be the home of a new 26-bed Inpatient Adult Psychiatric Unit located on the fourth floor of the hospital.
The following is a one-on-one interview with Dr. Tammy Torres, CEO, to introduce SMC’s Unit and associated behavioral health resources.
SMC News: How will the addition of an Inpatient Adult Psychiatric Unit impact Salem County and surrounding community, while enhancing the hospital and its services?
Dr. Torres: Adding behavioral health resources to the Salem County area is significant because there is such a great need not only in Salem County, but across the state. In 2017, the New Jersey Department of Health put out a call to hospitals to expand behavioral health services. Salem Medical Center was granted 26 beds.
We have been given the opportunity to usher in this important service so that we can help many residents while keeping them near home in their own community.
While this expansion demonstrates our continued commitment to investing in our community, it also represents a major step forward into our future as a medical center. We are committed to helping patients with behavioral issues seek treatment and recover, safely integrating back into society.
SMC News: How will the community benefit from the Inpatient Psychiatric Unit?
Dr. Torres: The 21,000-square-foot voluntary Unit is a great mental health resource for our community. While there are numerous reasons why a person might need care in an inpatient psychiatric setting, generally people are admitted because their symptoms are serious and unstable, often requiring supervision in a safe environment.
This setting provides a safe, secure place where individuals with behavioral health issues can receive compassionate treatment to move beyond the immediate crisis. The new Unit features open and communal space to promote interaction and reduce isolation, and offers areas for group meetings. Our patient-centered behavioral health services include comprehensive psychiatric assessment and treatment, one-on-one intervention and psychiatric stabilization/medication management.
The opening of the Unit was highly anticipated by community leaders such as law enforcement, local government officials, and health/behavioral health professionals. The Unit connects individuals to much-needed professional mental health support and services in a safe environment.
SMC News: What is SMC’s background in the behavioral health field?
Dr. Torres: Since the early 1980s, SMC has served as the county’s designated psychiatric screening site. This screening is often the first step when dealing with psychiatric emergencies. The opening of the Unit provides the next step in the continuum of care.
SMC News: What types of mental health conditions are treated in the Unit?
Dr. Torres: Our team works to diagnose and treat a wide variety of mental health conditions from depression to acute mood and anxiety disorders to post traumatic stress disorder. Inpatient care is the most intensive level of treatment for individuals suffering from behavioral health disorders. It offers 24-hour care in a safe and secure environment, making it best for patients who experience an acute episode.
SMC News: What is the makeup of the team of clinicians who will be caring for patients in the Unit?
Dr. Torres: We have a fully supported, multidisciplinary treatment team, including representation from psychiatry, nursing, mental health therapists, rehabilitation therapists, social work, and case management.
SMC News: In addition to the Inpatient Unit, are there other behavioral health services offered?
Dr. Torres: Yes. We are partnering with Legacy Treatment Services to provide outpatient behavioral health services on the grounds of Salem Medical Center. Legacy operates outpatient care to ensure continuity of care for individuals being discharged from the Inpatient Adult Psychiatric Unit, as well as an outpatient resource to meet the needs of the community.