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7/8/15 WTAJ recently aired a story about the partnership of local providers, including UPMC Bedford Memorial, Home Nursing Agency, Community Nursing, The Aging Institute, and UPMC Senior Communities to offer depression screenings and additional care for physical and mental health of seniors in Bedford County.

This was made possible through a $600,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Federal Office for Rural Health Policy to improve the health outcomes of Bedford County residents 65 and older with depressive symptoms. When Bedford County seniors are treated at UPMC Bedford Memorial or seen for home health care, they will have an opportunity to be screened for depression and those who need additional care will be appropriately referred for follow-up through a doctor, behavioral health nurse or telepsychiatry.

Local seniors to be screened for depression

By Charlotte Ames | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New efforts are underway to improve the medical and mental health of residents in an area county.

UPMC Bedford Memorial has been awarded a $600,000 federal grant to lead a  comprehensive health initiative in Bedford County.

During treatment at the hospital, and home nursing visits, all older patients will be screened for depression,  and those who need it,  will be referred  to a doctor , a behavioral health nurse, or even telepsychiatry for the  appropriate care.

Hospital officials say research shows  depression is increasing  in older adults from rural areas. UPMC Bedford Vice President of Patient Care Services, Paula Thomas says, "even if somebody comes into the hospital and they've had a change in their medical condition or sometimes they lose some independence,  as they get older. We want to help address those areas so we can keep them well and as independent as long as we can."

Thomas says the health initiative will also focus on improving the access of older residents to primary care physicians and specialists.

She says 19 percent of Bedford County residents are 65 and older, which is higher than the state rate of 13 to 15 percent.