Mercy provides mental health treatment for area elderly

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Senior Life Solutions at Mercy Hospital Cassville employs Valerie Yarmouth, left, licensed clinical social worker; Michael Newton, program manager; and Kathy Holle, licensed practical nurse, to help senior residents with their emotional and behavioral health issues. The program had a community open house Thursday. Jason Johnston/

Senior Life Solutions arranges group therapy for those 65-plus

Area residents who are 65 and older can enroll into an outpatient program at Mercy Hospital Cassville that offers them solutions to their emotional and behavioral health concerns.

The critical care access hospital, located at 94 Main St., is offering the Senior Life Solutions program and hopes to get the word out to community members.

The hospital started the program on Aug. 20, 2014, as a local option for people who want to get treatment in the area instead of driving to a big city to get it, said Michael Newton, program manager.

"The goal is to try to teach coping skills with whatever the issue is -- like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder or any other behavioral or mental issues -- through group therapy (three days a week)," Newton said.

Each patient must have enough cognition to learn from the program, he said. Senior Life Solutions will not treat people who have advanced Alzheimer's or dementia. However, adults who have physical disabilities could be eligible for the program.

After applicants request to join the program, Newton said he does assessments at their homes to see if they qualify. After he thinks they meet the requirements, the applicants meet with a psychiatrist who determines whether to admit them into the program.

Senior Life Solutions has two psychiatrists who come from Joplin, he said. They alternate weeks. The program prefers seven to 10 people in group therapy sessions.

"If they fill up more than 10 people, it becomes too distracting for people to be able to learn what's going on," Newton said.

As of Thursday, Valerie Yarmouth, the program's licensed clinical social worker, said she has worked with six patients in the current cognitive behavioral therapy session.

The therapy duration with a psychiatrist and Yarmouth depends on the psychiatrist's order and how well each patient progresses, Newton said. Senior Life Solutions is in constant communication with every patient's primary physician.

Newton has overseen the program since early November. He has been a registered nurse since 2005. Newton was a nurse at the University of Missouri Rehabilitation Center in Mount Vernon until it closed last year.

Yarmouth graduated with a master's degree in social work from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 2009. She had two years of supervision before she became a licensed clinical social worker on Oct. 30, 2012. Yarmouth arrived at Mercy Cassville in late July 2014.

If potential applicants want more information about Senior Life Solutions, they may contact Newton at or 417-847-6042.

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