Centered in a community which is rich in history and tradition, Columbia Las Encinas Hospital is no exception. Established in 1904, by Dr. James H. McBride, Las Encinas Hospital (then named the Southern California Sanitarium for Nervous Diseases) was meant to be a place for mental health recovery, a place for hope and for renewal. Dr. McBride had the words A Non Est Vivere Sed Valere Vita@ (Not just to live, but to enjoy living) inscribed above the front door. We continue to be guided by the philosophy that remains above the front door: Enjoying living. Though our name has changed during the 93 years since our founding, one thing has not changed: Columbia Las Encinas is still fully committed to providing the highest quality services to our patients and to the community.

Today, COLUMBIA Las Encinas Hospital is a 138-bed acute psychiatric and chemical dependency facility. We offer a full continuum of inpatient, partial hospitalization and outpatient services for children, adolescents and adults.

COLUMBIA Las Encinas offers RESPOND for crisis intervention and referral, rehabilitation services, ACCESS community mental health groups, and a Rapid Stabilization philosophy that helps the facility meet the demands of managed care. The Partial hospitalization programs may be utilized as a transition from hospital, or as intensive treatment without hospitalization. Our Youth Services Pavilion deals with the acute treatment of children and adolescents from ages 5 - 17 for emotional, behavioral and chemical dependency problems.

The senior years are now regarded as some of the most productive and fulfilling times in an adult's life. But what happens when older adults feel too depressed, anxious or forgetful to accomplish all they are capable of doing? The problem may be linked to a mental health concern. "Functional psychiatric disturbances are very common in the senior population," says Berry McCord, MD, Medical Director of the Gero-Psychiatric Unit. "Yet, in many cases, the older person fears the stigma of mental illness, seeking the help of a general practitioner, pastor, relative or caregiver before getting psychiatric assistance."

The most common disorders occurring in seniors:


Depressive disorders afflict from 5 to 10 percent of those over 65. Common symptoms include feelings of sadness and/or irritability, loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, changes in weight or appetite, sleep problems, loss of interest in appearance and thoughts of suicide or death. Psychological causes may include loss of a loved one, feelings of helplessness, prolonged illness and the sense of losing control over one's life. Depression may also be linked with physical illness and the medications used for treating a particular illness. Depression in the elderly can be treated, in many cases giving the individual a renewed purpose and pleasure in life.

Anxiety Disorders:

The term for anxiety disorders occurring for the first time in later life is "late onset neurosis." Panic disorder in the elderly may be more common than previously believed. Phobias are also frequent, especially in the aftermath of a major life change or stressful situation.

Alcoholism and Drug Dependency:

Alcohol and drug abuse account for 10 percent of all emotional problems among seniors. This is a concern more common than is generally recognized, primarily because the drugs of choice are not illegal substances, but prescribed or over-the-counter medications. Drug-dependent seniors do not exhibit the same behavior as dependent young people. Instead, they may experience falls, confusion, poor personal hygiene, depression and malnutrition. Over the counter medication abusers frequently misuse laxatives, pain compounds and sleep medication. In many cases, seniors have a difficult time letting go of substances, yet intervention and treatment are critical to restore physical and psychological health and social functioning.


Dementia is characterized by decreased intellectual function, personality change and impairment of judgment. A critical problem with dementia is that it often sets off a debilitating cycle of loneliness as the cognitive dysfunction progresses. Failing memory, disorientation and lack of interpersonal contact can lead to depression, anxiety and a house-bound senior. Early intervention is critical for those with dementia.

Seeking Help:

At Columbia Las Encinas Hospital, we have established a wide services for geriatric psychiatry (or gero-psychiatry). These programs include inpatient care, outpatient programs and a new gero-psychiatric unit for rapid stabilization. In all these services, multidisciplinary staff work closely with the caregiver to help restore mental well-being.

The key to senior mental health is seeking help when problems are suspected. The Columbia Las Encinas Gero-Psychiatric assessment team may be contacted at 800/792-2345.

Our Chemical Dependency Program is built around the foundation of detoxification and evaluation, personalizing each individual's day treatment and outpatient treatment.

The Outpatient Chemical Dependency Service provides a critical level of care for patients in need of transition from more intensive treatment. The evening hours allow for patients to return to work, while retaining the structure and support of the program.

COLUMBIA Las Encinas is available as a resource 24-hours a day through our intervention, assessment and referral service, RESPOND. Staffed by licensed psychiatric nurses and social workers, RESPOND is available to perform assessments both at the hospital and off site.

Columbia Las Encinas services are available at competitive rates and are covered by most insurance plans, including many managed care providers.

As healthcare and the surrounding communities continue to change, Columbia Las Encinas Hospital remains in step. We work with insurers, government, community members and clinicians to meet the challenges ahead. What is ahead for the hospital's second hundred years? We look to helping even more people by continuing to expand our network of services. It is a big task for changing, and often challenging times. Yet, the oldest and most important tradition at Columbia Las Encinas Hospital, its approach to patient care, remains its top priority - Not just to live but to enjoy living."

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