- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) - The Richmond State Hospital where Dr. Surjeet Bhangoo works today is very different from the facility she began working at in 1979.

It’s even more changed since it accepted its first patient in 1890.

Richmond State Hospital celebrates its 125th anniversary Thursday with a special ceremony at 1 p.m. in the CTC building. The community is welcome.

“We’re celebrating mental health and the strides we’ve made throughout the years,” said Tara Jamison, community relations director.

Bhangoo, a psychiatrist, has witnessed firsthand the majority of the greatest changes in Richmond State Hospital and the care of those who have a mental illness.

“I think we have made a lot of progress and transformation to better patient care,” she said.

For much of its history, the state hospital offered custodial care to its patients - a home that accommodated with their unique needs. Custodial care was still the norm when Bhangoo joined the staff.

The next change was to active treatment, including psycho-social options and medication management that allowed many former patients to move into the community, she said.

Today, the state hospital uses a recovery oriented approach, Bhangoo said. She said this is no single formula for patient treatment recovery, but one that looks at every option and involves the patient, their family and even the community.

“I’m very proud to be a part of that,” Bhangoo said. “When I joined, we had very few psychiatrists. Accreditation led to a trained staff.”

When she started working at Richmond State Hospital, it was not the psychiatry she had been trained for. That, she said, was to treat patients in a private practice on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. She took the job expecting to only work at the state hospital for a short time.

But the patients changed her plans.

“I found I wanted to dedicate my career to the severely mentally ill - People who did not have a voice,” Bhangoo said.

“I’ve learned a great deal from treating them,” she continued. “You learn about the humanity. You learn about the suffering. I have no regrets. It was a good career choice. I have had a great deal of gratification.”

One of the biggest changes Bhangoo was involved in was the discharge of state hospital patients to live independently, or with supervision, in the community. Better medication and treatment plans led to the opportunity.

To her, it was gratifying to see people who had lived at the state hospital for 15 or 20 years, now living on their own, having the freedom and independence.

All of the changes in care, Bhangoo said, have come through a group effort. She praises the superintendents, medical staff and other staff for their dedication to improving care.

“It’s not a one person task. It is a team task,” she said. “We’re encouraged to look at the underlying cause, not the behavior.”

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Source: (Richmond) Palladium-Item, https://pinews.co/1KygSSo

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Information from: Palladium-Item, https://www.pal-item.com

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