Monthly Archives: December 2014

Rosecrance a partner in new care connection program

Rosecrance joins several community partners for a new pilot program that aims to connect people with the right resources so they can maintain independence and avoid institutionalization.

Illinois officials picked the Rockford region to participate in the program. The project is funded by a federal grant through the Balancing Incentive Program (BIP).

In addition to Rosecrance, the partners in the grant are: RAMP, Visiting Nurses Association, Northern Illinois Area Agency on Aging, Rockford Housing Authority and Rockford Memorial Hospital.

The goal is to improve access to home and community-based services from the hospital or from a short-term nursing home stay. Oftentimes, accessing these services can be overwhelming for patients and their families.

The grant partners will help connect people – the elderly, people with disabilities and/or mental illness – with needed services such as housing, assistive equipment, home modifications, counseling, mental health services and more.

Rosecrance will provide behavioral health counseling and therapy for patients leaving hospitals or nursing homes. If the person is homeless, the organization will provide the support needed to find housing.

“We’ve been in the business of mental health in the community for many, many years and because of our network with the housing programs and the behavioral health component, we have the ability to work closely together to make sure all of the needs are met,” said Kathy Grossen, Rosecrance’s coordinator of homeless services. “With this grant, all of these agencies are going to coordinate together so we can break down those barriers to putting the pieces together.”

The grant provides a much-needed funding boost at a time when many of the agencies have experienced budget cuts in recent years.

“When you’ve just had a heart attack, or you’re in psychiatric crisis, or you’ve just had a broken hip, you’ve got to make a quick decision,” Grossen said. “And you don’t have time to make multiple phone calls. Having a case manager who’s right at your bedside who says, ‘I can link all these things up for you before you leave,’ that will make your life so much easier. That is a huge difference that isn’t there without this grant.”

Visiting Nurses Association wrote and is facilitating the grant.

“Without a doubt, we know we’ll make a difference,” said Denise Schrader, executive director of Visiting Nurses Association. “People want to be living at home.

“This is a great opportunity for our community.”

Fire Engineering Magazine features Rosecrance Florian Program

Fire Engineering Magazine featured the Rosecrance Florian Program on their website December 20, 2014.

Those of us in the fire service encounter traumatic events in the line of duty every day. Days become years, and those years become a career that spans decades.

To deal with the stress of the job and sometimes injuries from the job, some of us turn to alcohol and other drugs to cope. Our mental health suffers, harming job performance and family life.

Ask yourself – what’s the toll on your body, your mind and your emotions after 30 years on the job?

As firefighters and EMTs, we’re very pragmatic. We see a problem and we correct it. But we’re never really taught or trained how to feel about it.

The reality is, we’re human, and we do feel. What we find out many times is that we don’t like those thoughts and feelings, so we anesthetize them.

We need to overcome the macho image of how we’re supposed to be and realize we’re human beings who are affected by years of trauma, whether we have personal trauma from losing a brother or sister in the fire service or we have secondary/vicarious trauma from the injuries and bad things we see every day.


Click here to continue reading the story.

'Tis the season to stick with the recovery program

Group 2

Members of the Rosecrance Alumni Program met for the Alumni Workshop “Enjoying the Holiday Spirit Without Spirits II” held at the Rosecrance Berry Campus Dec. 7, 2014.

Staying clean and sober during the holidays can be especially challenging with temptations at seemingly every corner.

Maybe it’s the holiday party with the open bar or the alcohol and drugs available on New Year’s Eve. It’s normal to feel uncomfortable if you’re in recovery and invited to those types of gatherings.

Rosecrance alumni and staff stress that it’s important this time of year to reach out for help from sponsors, friends and relatives, and attend 12-Step meetings to help maintain your sobriety.

A panel of alumni shared their advice during the “Enjoying the Holiday Spirit without Spirits” event Dec. 7 at the Rosecrance Berry Campus. Attendees enjoyed conversation, food and activities.

Rosecrance alumna Teresa shared with the group that she grew up in a big family with a mom she likens today to Martha Stewart. Teresa said there was always alcohol in the house, and she started drinking when she was 13.

“As a mother myself, I wanted to emulate my mom for Christmas because I always remember our Christmases being so wonderful,” she said. “I always wanted to be like her, but I also had the beer.”

Teresa checked into Rosecrance on Dec. 1, 2010, and spent her first sober Christmas there. She learned how to have fun and enjoy the company of other people while sober, a lesson she’s still thankful for today.

She makes it a priority to attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting if she’s feeling stressed during the holidays, such as during the day on Christmas Eve.

“When I get lazy and stop going to meetings, I start to feel yucky. I don’t feel that great protection,” she said. “It just armors me, and it shields me from those outside things that we see on TV, everybody glamorizing alcohol or whatever. Or even the taste-testing in the stores. I can walk by those and not even think about it.”

Make sure you have an out if you’re at a family function or a party and you start to feel uncomfortable. Rosecrance alumnus Jordan suggested telling a few people who are either in the program or someone you know who’s going to hold you accountable where you are, what’s going on and what’s going to be there.

“If you’re feeling itchy or anxious, check in with them. If you’re feeling shaky, maybe help another alcoholic instead,” he said.

Brendan, 18, first checked in for treatment at the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus on his December birthday nearly four years ago. He emphasized the importance of taking recovery one day at a time.

“The only reason I liked holidays before was because I got more drug money,” he said. “The most important part for me now about staying clean around the holidays is surrounding yourself with people who are in the program or people who have goals and are more focused and realize that having family around is really interesting to be part of.”

Jordan said working the 12 Steps changed him “from the inside out,” and that’s what took away his obsession to drink or to use.

“Once that happened, the holidays didn’t faze me as much,” he said. “Because I can remember I used to just wake up, do the presents thing with my family and then go up to my room and start drinking. That was what Christmas used to mean for me.

“So the change is, with sobriety, I’m actually able to be present physically and mentally, be of use to my family, but especially also for people within AA. I’ve been taught accordingly to carry the message to treatment centers, go to AA meetings, get involved, do service. That’s the biggest thing that’s kept me sober.”

Jordan said he plans to chair a meeting during the evening on Christmas Day. His parents said he left Rosecrance a different person.

“I can honestly say that we can enjoy the holidays with the spirit now because Jordan went to Rosecrance, but Jordan didn’t come out of Rosecrance. We got a whole new child. We got a whole new person,” Jordan’s mom, Cindy, said.

Rosecrance Alumni Coordinator Missy Garrison also offered these suggestions:

  • There are generally marathon 12-Step meetings (24 hours straight) on Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year’s to attend.
  • If you’re early in recovery, it’s OK to avoid celebrations with alcohol and/or drugs. Remember there will be many more holidays if you can make it through your first.
  • Volunteer to do service work for your home group or help at a community soup kitchen, homeless shelter or animal shelter.

Don't let mental health, addiction issues smolder


Firefighters and paramedics encounter traumatic events in the line of duty every day. To deal with the stress and injuries from their jobs, some turn to alcohol and other drugs.

The new Rosecrance Florian Program offers the best opportunity for lasting recovery by incorporating occupational factors into the treatment process. The program is housed in a designated, eight-bed coed unit at the Rosecrance Harrison Campus, a modern 97-bed adult facility in Rockford, Illinois, that offers a full continuum of inpatient and outpatient services.


Dan DeGryse, Director of the Rosecrance Florian Program

Daniel DeGryse, an active-duty battalion chief/EMT with 25 years’ experience with the Chicago Fire Department, was hired in June to direct the program. He developed the program with Dr. Raymond Garcia, a board-certified psychiatrist and addictionologist who is trained in treating firefighters and paramedics for co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

“The nature of being a firefighter or paramedic is to always be ready for anything, to expect anything that can happen,” said Garcia, medical director for Rosecrance’s adult services. “It’s being ready for the unpredictable, and the unpredictable can be fairly traumatic.”

Florian, named for the patron saint of firefighters, is the first program in the country dedicated to and specializing in serving firefighters, paramedics and other fire service members who need substance abuse treatment but who also need care for job-related post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

A 12-member committee comprised of experienced firefighters and fire personnel from across the nation is helping to advise the Florian Program. Rosecrance started treating clients in the fall.

“I have worked with Rosecrance for years and referred many people to Rosecrance for substance abuse treatment,” DeGryse said. “The staff was eager to learn more about the firefighting culture and create a unique therapeutic program dedicated to this population.

“I think this program will help our clients learn to take care of themselves, help them return to work safely, continue their recovery, be healthy again and improve their quality of life.”

Peer support from active and retired fire service personnel is a key element of the program. Men and women also can relate to one another’s experiences while staying on the same unit together. The program also has spiritual support.


A staff member of the Rosecrance Florian program climbs a 100-foot aerial ladder as part of the training with the Rockford Fire Department in October.

To better understand how the fire service works and connect with clients during treatment, nine Rosecrance staff members trained with the Rockford Fire Department in October. They suited up in full firefighter gear and took turns doing tasks such as extinguishing a car fire and climbing a 100-foot aerial ladder.

Resiliency is an important lesson for Florian clients because many men and women will return to work and face the same stressful, traumatic experiences. Also key is accepting help and not feeling weak or ashamed by doing so.

“When you’re sworn in as a firefighter, whether you’re a volunteer or a career, and you take that oath, they hand you a cape. You don’t actually see it, but you get it. And your job is to go out and save the day, to do the things that other people can’t do. And unfortunately, you can’t always save the day,” said Patrick Kenny, fire chief in Western Springs, Illinois, and a member of the Florian advisory panel.

The Florian Program also will work to train fire personnel across the country to recognize and act on the signs and symptoms of substance abuse and mental health issues. Many fire departments, both full-time and volunteer, don’t have the resources for this type of training.

“I believe it’s imperative to address these issues,” DeGryse said. “There has to be a movement. We need more people on board to tackle behavioral health challenges for the fire service so we don’t pass along things like addiction to the next generation.”

First Rosecrance 'Reading Smoke' seminar a success


Rosecrance Florian Program Director Dan DeGryse speaks at the “Reading Smoke” training December 2, 2014.

Engaging speakers shared passionate, real-life stories Dec. 2 during the first of a series of seminars geared toward the fire service and organized by staff with the Rosecrance Florian Program.


Patrick Kenny, fire chief in Western Springs, Illinois, delivers the keynote address at the “Reading Smoke” training December 2, 2014.

The crowd of 120 firefighters, fire chiefs, chaplains and other personnel heard details about the new Florian Program, as well as presentations about post-traumatic stress disorder, peer support for the fire service and a riveting keynote address by Patrick Kenny, fire chief in Western Springs, Illinois. The “Reading Smoke: Taking care of our own … behavioral health in the fire service” event took place at Maggiano’s Little Italy in Naperville.

Florian, named for the patron saint of firefighters, is a new program based at the Rosecrance Harrison Campus in Rockford, Illinois. It has an eight-bed unit dedicated to serving fire service members for substance abuse disorders and co-occurring mental health issues such as PTSD, depression and anxiety.

The training highlighted how Rosecrance staff and others are helping firefighters and EMTs recover from trauma, develop coping skills so they can return to their jobs and strengthen relationships with their families.


Dr. Raymond Garcia, medical director at the Harrison Campus and a board-certified addictionologist, spoke about PTSD, including its causes and symptoms.

Dan DeGryse, director of the Rosecrance Florian Program and a battalion chief/EMT with the Chicago Fire Department, discussed his research on firefighter suicides and stress. Dr. Raymond Garcia, medical director at the Harrison Campus and a board-certified addictionologist, spoke about PTSD, including its causes and symptoms.

Sarah Gura, director of Firefighter Psychological Support and clinical consultant for the Illinois Fire Fighter Peer Support Team, spoke alongside Matt Olson, a lieutenant with the Bolingbrook (Illinois) Fire Department. Both have extensive experience working with and helping counsel firefighters and paramedics, and Olson shared his personal mental health story, which followed an intense year of personal loss within his family and circle of friends.

Kenny captivated the audience, discussing his 32-year fire service career and the devastating story of losing his son, Sean, to suicide. Sean died in 2006 at the age of 20. He’d been diagnosed with depression at the early age of 5.

DeGryse said the seminar was “way overdue in and for the fire service.”

“Thanks to (Rosecrance President/CEO) Phil Eaton for seeing the need and accepting the challenge,” DeGryse said. “I loved the passion by all the presenters. The bottom line is all the speakers ‘get it,’ as I say, and so did the attendees.”

Sid Aurand, fire chief of the Dixon (Illinois) Rural Fire Department, and Chaplain Al Duncan both said the seminar was worth their time. They enjoyed the speakers and said the personal stories enhanced the meaning of the messages.

“I think we get it. But you have to hear a program like this to really get it. You can hear the message, but you know you’ve got to be part of it,” Aurand said.

More presentations like “Reading Smoke” are planned. Call Kelly Dinsmore at 815-222-2946 or Dan DeGryse at 815-387-2461 for more information or if you want to attend one of these future events.

Feeling blue? The holidays can do that to you

As we get older, the holidays tend to sneak up on us sooner each year.

Christmas cards start arriving in the mail along with invitations to holiday parties. Teens create gift wish-lists that hopefully match the family’s spending money set aside for the season.

snowyVery quickly, the stretch of time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day can start to feel pretty overwhelming.

Just as the season seems to sneak up on us, so, too, can the holiday blues. They come on as we transition from fall to winter, soon after the clocks get set back and darkness sets in earlier each day.

It’s colder outside, so our activity levels decrease because we’re cooped up in the house avoiding the snow and ice. Sweet treats and comfort foods are more accessible during the holidays, and we often spend long hours in cars and airports traveling to visit relatives.

“The holidays, aside from being a fun time, can also be a very stressful time because there are a lot of events and lot of family gatherings,” said Stephen Smith, director of the Rosecrance Berry Campus and Aspen Counseling & Consulting LLC. “And for some, that can be very good, and for others, that can be a source of stress more than something joyful.”


Steve Smith, Director of Rosecrance Berry Campus and Aspen & Consulting LLC

Smith said a big myth about the holiday blues is that they only affect people with chronic mental illness. The holiday blues actually affect a large segment of the population this time of year, so they really are a common condition, he said.

So the holiday blues are a common, normal experience. But how do you avoid them or make yourself feel better when the season doesn’t seem so joyful?

Stay as active as possible, Smith said. Join a gym or find a way to stay active indoors. Be aware of maintaining a healthy diet. Avoid indulging in too much alcohol, which is a depressant.

And don’t underestimate the importance of talking to someone about how you’re feeling.

“Talk therapy, even brief talk therapy during those periods where you know you’re dealing with significant stressors is good,” Smith said. “We all know with stress, we tend to bottle it up, so the more you can talk about it, the easier it is to process it and actually work through it and realize it doesn’t have to be this huge impediment to enjoying the season.”

Try to be as proactive about the holiday blues as possible, and don’t ignore them. Pay close attention to children and teens who also might be feeling stressed during the holiday season. Their behavior can change because they’re on vacation and they don’t have that structure of the typical school day.

“A lot of times, we try to look the other way, usually because we’re caught up in the hoopla of the season,” Smith said. “So you might notice things like agitation. Parents and kids who are normally calm, cool and collected are suddenly agitated at the drop of a hat. Social withdrawal is another issue, as you may also see them isolating a little bit more.

“Any real, major change from what has been normal behavior is something worth addressing, not ignoring or thinking it’s just going to go away. Because the more that problem is allowed to progress, the more difficult it is to get out of it.”

The holiday blues won’t necessarily require years of psychotherapy and medication treatment. People may just need to express how they’re feeling, get a third-party perspective and then move on with their lives, Smith said. Light box therapy is sometimes utilized to help elevate people’s moods because they’re exposed to less sunlight during the winter.

Holiday blues differ from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which tends to happen again and again, year after year. People often think SAD only occurs during the winter, but there can be a similar effect during the spring and summer for people, Smith said.

“SAD tends to be more chronic, while the holiday blues may be very much more tied to a specific event or this time of year,” Smith said. “You get a thousand things going on, and it’s hard to keep up with everything.”

If the holiday blues worsen or hang on past the actual holidays, reach out to a mental health professional for help. Rosecrance has mental health services available for adults, children and families through several locations in Rockford, Chicago and the suburbs, and Wisconsin.

Visit to schedule a free consultation, or call 815-391-1000 or 888-928-5278 for help.

Boccignone joins Rosecrance to lead fundraising as longtime development chief Lynne Vass retires


Anne Boccignone, a veteran executive in the fields of marketing and communications and an experienced fundraiser, has joined Rosecrance Health Network as Vice President of Development.

She takes the reins at the Rosecrance Foundation from Lynne Vass, a former Rosecrance board member who came to work for the organization more than two decades ago to head up the communications and development departments. Vass is retiring.

“We welcome Anne to Rosecrance, where she will inherit an excellent development and communications operation that was created by Lynne over the course of her 23 years with us,” said Rosecrance President/CEO Philip W. Eaton. “I know Anne’s deep ties to this community, and her commitment to the Rosecrance mission and vision will ensure that we keep moving toward the future by providing philanthropic support for programs and the people we serve.”

Boccignone is a Beloit, WI, native who has more than 20 years of experience in the public and private sectors. She spent more than a decade working in the advertising industry in Minneapolis. Most recently, she worked as a brand strategist for Rockford strategic communications firm GrahamSpencer.

As a community volunteer, she has served on boards and in leadership roles for several organizations, including The Discovery Center Museum, Junior League of Rockford and Spectrum Progressive School of Rockford.

“I feel so fortunate to join Rosecrance at this moment of strength and opportunity,” Boccignone said. “Lynne is an incredible fundraising leader who worked tirelessly with the Rosecrance Foundation Board to build the resources to serve so many vulnerable families in our community. I am determined to build on that success to enable Rosecrance to continue that legacy of serving our community.”

Through the years, Vass used her development skills not only to further the work of Rosecrance but, also, to raise the standard of professionalism and success for other area not-for-profit organizations. She was a longtime member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Northern Illinois Planned Giving Council, serving terms as president and board member for both organizations. She also served as president of the United Voices for Children Board of Directors.

“During Lynne’s tenure with Rosecrance, our annual Benefit became a signature fundraising event in this community,” Eaton said, “and because of her leadership, Rosecrance has been able to offer charity care to thousands of families.”

The Benefit annually raises more than half a million dollars that goes to help families in need access treatment for mental health and substance use disorders. Through the years, Vass led several multi-million dollar campaigns for capital projects, including the $14 million adolescent treatment center on University Drive, which opened in 2004 and now serves nearly 1,000 teens annually.

Welcoming Boccignone to her new role, Rosecrance Foundation Board Chair Lisa Lindman said Vass paved the way to the future through the relationships she developed with friends and donors over the years.

“It has been a privilege to serve on the Rosecrance Foundation and be mentored by Lynne Vass,” Lindman said. “Her expert leadership has enabled the Foundation to fund extensive programming throughout our region.”

Congressman Adam Kinzinger Visits Rosecrance Ware Center


FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Rosecrance President/CEO Philip Eaton, U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger and Rosecrance Ware Center Administrator Anne Fridh.

U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-16th) toured the Rosecrance Ware Center Friday, December 8, to view the relocated facility and the increase in space for clients, staff and programs.

Rosecrance Ware Center Administrator Anne Fridh and President/CEO Philip Eaton showed Kinzinger around the new 42,000-square-foot facility, which has a modern design with a spacious lobby and includes staff offices, group meeting rooms, a pharmacy, and the Resource Recovery Center.


Rosecrance Ware Center Administrator Anne Fridh shows Congressman Adam Kinzinger the employee cubicles in the back of the Rosecrance Ware Center.

Kinzinger, Eaton and Fridh spoke about the need for mental health services, specifically among the veteran population throughout Northern Illinois.

Later that night, Kinzinger held a “Christmas Benefit for Veterans of Camouflage and Combat” at the Prairie Street Brewhouse in support of the Rosecrance Foundation.

Kinzinger, 36, is a former U.S. Air Force pilot who was re-elected in November 2014 to represent Illinois’ 16th District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rosecrance Florian Program featured in Chicago Tribune

The Rosecrance Florian Program for firefighters & paramedics was featured on the front page of the Chicago Tribune Monday, December 1, 2014.

Click here to watch the video and read the article.

To learn more about the Rosecrance Florian Program, click here.