A Heritage of Loving Service: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Tucson
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Heritage: The Story of St. Mary's Hospital, 1880-1980
By Leo G. Bryne and Sister Alberta Cammack, C.S.J

Chapter II Modern Medical Complex
Mental Health

With the opening of Mental Health Services in 1971 the unit functioned as a community mental health facility. Federal Mental Health agencies allocated $113,000 and the unit also received a $173,660 grant from the National Institute of Mental Health. St. Mary's service area covered one-third of Tucson, plus Santa Cruz, Cochise, Graham and Greenlee Counties.

Twenty-four patient rooms, a kitchen, dining room, recreation areas and crafts center made up the psychiatric unit, together with two isolation rooms and a room for shock therapy.

The main thrust of the treatment was to help drug abusers to withdraw from harmful drugs and to enable the emotionally ill to cope with stress. Patients could be admitted through the Emergency Room, by physician referral, or from a service or health agency. Patients from the designated service area were given priority. Follow-up care was provided by community agencies or by private physicians.

The Department functioned initially on Federal funding for staffing and on patient sliding-scale fees based on ability to pay. In time, local community funding was to replace Federal funding; however, with the lessening of Federal support, St. Mary's carried a full load of hospitalized and day-care patients with little or no ability to pay and was, in reality, subsidizing the community mental health program for five counties and part of Tucson without substantial assistance.

Committed to provide health services in its service area under the Federal grant, St. Mary's continues to do so in a five-day-a-week day-care program. In addition, to provide financial support to the in-hospital unit, patients are admitted on referrals from private physicians. Services are also offered to patients and families geared toward solving problems involved in complex family relationships. Other programs provide short-term intensive care including immediate crisis evaluation and stabilization treatment.

St. Mary's has provided inpatient care on an open-unit basis for the past nine years. Group, individual and family therapy are part of the program. Patients admitted for evaluation and stabilization may be referred to appropriate community agencies or continue hospitalization in a regular program. Occupational and activity therapies are available, together with individual and group psychotherapy sessions. Chemotherapy and selective electro-convulsive therapy are also utilized. The staff is supportive, watchful and firm. A primary therapist maps out a program for each patient, together with other members of a team. Daily reporting among the team members keeps the program consistent with on-going goals.

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