Tidewater Cove hosts groundbreaking

Published 10:20 pm Monday, June 21, 2021

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Tidewater Cove hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for its new Memory Care Unit on June 16.

Located off East Washington Street, Tidewater Cove is an assisted living facility that has primarily provided care to geriatric individuals with serious mental illness. The facility recently was approved to go from its 65-bed capacity to 80 beds. Ten of these beds are dedicated to the new memory care facility.

“We’re excited,” said Demetrios Peratsakis, executive director of the Western Tidewater Community Services Board. “We think it’s great. You have to start with a vision, but the vision doesn’t happen without the right supports and the right talent.”

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This new unit comes from a partnership between the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and WTCSB. Notable guests attended this groundbreaking, including Delegate Clinton Jenkins, Suffolk Mayor Mike Duman, DBHDS Commissioner Allison Land and multiple members of the WTCSB.

The goal for this new unit is to continue hospitalization prevention work by providing care for patients with dementia and neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and hopefully, in the future, branch out to veterans who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

“In Virginia, currently what often happens is they end up psychiatrically hospitalized, and they often end up in state hospitals,” said Dr. Suzanne Mayo, director of community integration with the DBHDS. “And I think our state hospitals are great. Personally, I work with them every day, but they’re not meant to treat dementia. They’re meant to treat many other types of mental illnesses. Actually, the recommended treatment for these behavioral symptoms of dementia is not being put in an institution, is not being given medication alone to manage the behaviors, it’s really person-centered care and person-centered care environments that specialize in dementia.”

This special care is needed, as many with these conditions experience complex behavioral and medical needs. The proper care can be hard to obtain, as many are temporarily detained in psychiatric facilities or do not receive the right care due to a lack of resources.

Peratsakis also discussed other programs Tidewater Cove plans to implement to help the efficiency and effectiveness of its services. These new plans include same-day access and primary health screenings and a regional interdisciplinary team. The team will have medical, behavioral health and geriatric specialists to assist caregivers in making ongoing plans that minimize risks or resident and caregiver crises from occurring and support community-based providers.

“We are also working statewide with huge issues going on with dementia, so it’s not just in this area,” said Land. “[Tidewater Cove is] just so progressive in being the first to pilot project to really try and make an impact. Because it’s not just our state hospitals that have issues, it’s all of them. It’s private hospitals and other supervised residential programs, [assisted living facilities], and long-term cares that are having these patients in their hospitals but don’t have the competency to really build that confidence so that we can manage them in the community.”

The expansion for this memory care unit was approved on May 20, and demolition started immediately. The wing is now being prepared for a new nurse’s station, bedrooms, and separate locking doors to keep wanderers safe and allow other residents their freedom.

“This is exciting,” said Duman. “There’s a lot of great things going on in Suffolk, and this is right at the top.”

“Demetrios many years ago opened the doors for me on mental health, and he gave me an opportunity to serve,” added Jenkins. “I’m so thankful for that, and I still use those skills today.”