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Schools & Program Visits - Oct, 1997 Issue #48

Joining with Youth in Healing
Boise, Idaho
Lon’s Visit: August 20, 1997
Joel Sessions, Marketing Manager

Intermountain Hospital is a 42 bed secure psychiatric facility for male and female adolescents within the city of Boise. Although they have clients from throughout the country and from other countries, they also have a sense of community in that they make a special effort to be a resource for adolescents within the Boise metropolitan area. Many of these local adolescents are on an outpatient basis. 

The grounds and buildings are clean and well maintained. They appear to have managed to achieve a decent balance between the functionality of a hospital and a sense of a small community. I was most impressed by the dedication of the staff. Key staff have many years of experience, are highly trained, obviously care about the children in their care, but most important, are enthusiastic about what they consider the hospital’s unique strengths. 

They claim the capability to do a complete psychiatric evaluation of a child in three days, and have living arrangements available to them so families could be brought in from out of town to participate in a full evaluation. After the completion of an evaluation, they tell me they have often referred families on to a structured behavioral program upon completion of their program or when indications were that the child did not need the medical model psychiatric treatment Intermountain Hospital provides. This suggests Intermountain Hospital might be a resource for educational consultants for those times when it is unclear whether a client might need formal treatment or just structured intervention. 

The hospital program itself averages about 60 days in length, but they are flexible in making sure that the needs of the child comes first, and have had several children in residence longer when deemed necessary. The children in residence at the Hospital usually have fairly serious pathologies.. The hospital has a strong pharmacology unit and proper medication is an emphasis. 

Evaluations are very complete, and the staff is heavily involved in contemporary research interpreting EEG brain wave patterns to find “markers” for various conditions. For example, this technique has been extremely helpful in their findings that a significant percentage of young people they have admitted with an ADD(H) diagnosis actually are exhibiting the “manic” of an incipient bipolar condition. The significance of this is that while Ritalin might be a proper medication for an ADD diagnosis, if the child is actually incipient bipolar, Ritalin could bring about a psychotic break with potentially permanent damage. 

“The philosophy of the Education Department at Intermountain Hospital of Boise is to provide quality educational services to all adolescent patients.... The goal of our school program is to help students have a successful school experience.” Their Intermountain School is accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools as a special purpose school. An extensive evaluation is made of the learning styles of all students, and a focus is made in their individualized curriculum to present material in a way that the students can “learn behavioral skills as they master the academic content of the material presented.... The Education Department is an integral member of the hospital’s treatment team.... Our goal is to establish communication and to assist in a smooth transition back to the classroom for each of our patients.”

Copyright © 1997, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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