The Fairmount Behavioral Health System is northwest Philadelphia’s resident psychiatric hospital. Open since 1997, it specializes in treating depression, paranoia, bipolar disorder, attention deficit disorder, extreme anger and aggression, suicidal thoughts and chemical dependency. There are five unique psychiatric units in the hospital; three units are reserved for acute care to the mentally ill and the other two are residential treatment units for dual diagnosis and chemical dependency clients over the age of 18.
Accommodations and Food
Fairmount Behavioral Health System is less than 30 minutes from downtown Philadelphia, but Wissahickon Valley Park is practically in its backyard. The campus is on 27 wooded acres and there are seating areas outdoors with tables and chairs. A full gym is available on-site for indoor exercise.
The main building of the hospital has storybook appeal—white with a forest green roof. The hospital itself is sizable, with space for 239 beds. Of the 67 chemical dependency beds, 21 are in the detox unit, 26 in the men’s unit and 19 in the women’s unit. Two clients share a sparsely furnished bedroom that has twin beds, wooden desks and a shared dresser.
Meals are served buffet-style in the hospital cafeteria and a choice of entrees is usually available. Smoking is allowed before and after meals and groups, but only in certain areas.
Treatment and Staff
Fairmount Behavioral Health System’s detox program is large, taking up a third of all of the chemical dependency beds. Round-the-clock medical monitoring is provided for clients withdrawing from alcohol, opiates and benzodiazepines. Detox can last anywhere from one to seven days; typically, when clients finish detox they progress to the next phase of residential treatment. Clients are usually in treatment for a total of anywhere from five to 30 days.
There are two different program schedules at the residential level: the dual diagnosis schedule and the standard chemical dependency schedule. The two tracks are kept separate during the day, even eating meals at different times, but come together for 12-step meetings at night.
Dual diagnosis clients wake up at 6:30 am for breakfast at 7:50 am. Meds are taken after breakfast, immediately before a morning goal-setting group at 9:15 am. At 10 am, clients have an hour of personal time before process group at 11 am. Lunch is at noon and meds are taken again, right after lunch. Then there is Allied Therapy (see Extras) until quiet time at 3 pm. At 3:30 pm, clients have one of four groups: stress management, relapse prevention, healthy life skills or another bonding group activity. Dinner is early bird special at 5 pm. Several days a week, visiting is allowed between 6:30 and 7:30 at night. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, clients have access to the gym at 7 pm. There are evening 12-step meetings on campus, after which dual diagnosis clients take their meds, have a brief goal review group and then lights out at 10 pm.
Clients in the standard chemical dependency program also wake up at 6:30 am, but don’t go to breakfast until 8:30 am. In the meantime, they have time for a smoke break, room cleanup and a community and goal setting meeting. There are two more groups before lunch at 12:30 pm. The early afternoon is relaxed: clients have down time to hang out and use the phone, or go to the gym before a community meeting and dinner at 5:30 pm. After dinner, there is a peer bonding activity and then the 12-step meeting at 8 pm. A community meeting follows the 12 steps and then lights out at 10:45 pm. Between 2:30 pm and 3:30 pm on Saturdays, visitors are allowed.
Education is an important program component at Fairmount Behavioral Health System for clients in both tracks. Psychoeducational groups teach clients about addiction and mental health from a neurobiological perspective. Counselors are trained in CBT and Motivational Interviewing (MI), using these modalities to provide tools for anger management, healthy living, stress management and relapse prevention.
All clients are assigned an individual therapist. Clients in the dual diagnosis program are also provided psychiatric services and pharmacotherapy. Fairmount Behavioral Health System psychiatrists are board-certified, nurses are licensed and clinicians are Master’s-level or otherwise highly trained and licensed.
The Allied Therapy Program consists of artistic experiential therapies—visual art, music and movement (which is basically dance). In art therapy, clients make drawings and group murals and learn to communicate without talking. In music therapy, they sing, write songs and lyrics and improvise on percussive instruments. In movement therapy, clients reconnect with the body, process experiences and learn about their emotional needs.
Fairmount Behavioral Health System also runs a Family Involvement Program, a series of support group meetings where families of clients are provided with information about mental illness and chemical dependency. This program is not closed to families—friends and community members are welcome to attend.
Fairmount Behavioral Health System provides structured, evidence-based treatment for substance abuse and it looks like a great place for clients needing comprehensive dual diagnosis support. Psychiatric resources are plentiful, in addition to nightly 12-step meetings and family support.
Fairmount Behavioral Health System Location
561 Fairthorne Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19128
Fairmount Behavioral Health System Cost
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