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Recovery home technician Denise Johnson cuts apples and chats with residents at Marlowe House in Rockford.

On a quiet October afternoon, Rosecrance Marlowe House taught life skills to teenagers in subtle ways.

Girls chatted with staff about school in the kitchen while snacking on fruit. Laughter emitted from two girls in the living room listening to stand-up comedy on a digital music player.

One girl wrote in a journal and another shared the dining room table using her paint-covered fingertips to finish artwork.

These seemingly normal, everyday activities teach the 14 girls who live at Marlowe how to spend their time productively instead of using and abusing drugs and alcohol. They share the common bond of substance abuse and spent time as inpatients being treated for addiction.

The Rockford home is crucial to their recovery journeys because time spent there
helps them learn how to be independent before transitioning back into the “real world.”

Rosecrance’s foray into recovery home programming dates back nearly two decades. Today the organization runs two recovery homes for adolescent male and female clients and a co-ed home for adults and single parents with children in Rockford.

To support Rosecrance services in McHenry County, recovery homes for men and women opened in October in Woodstock, and plans are in the works to open a collegiate recovery home in Chicago.

Rosecrance President/CEO Philip Eaton said safe, dignified housing helps strengthen an individual’s opportunity for lasting recovery.

“The principle of the successful operation of a recovery home is clearly structure and
accountability, linked very tightly with a commitment to the 12 steps,” Eaton said. “Absent those three, recovery homes are just housing.

“Stability is essential, whether it is a teen trying to learn what it is to be an adult or a young adult preparing for a career or higher education, or if it’s a mom with a little baby with DCFS (Department of Children and Family Services) looking over her shoulder. It’s a tough time for people in that transition. The Rosecrance recovery homes provide that opportunity to move on.”

Recovery comes home

Rosecrance’s recovery home program started in 1996, when the organization received a federal grant through the city of Rockford to offer Project HomeBase. The program provided transitional housing and treatment services for 10 homeless mothers and their children.

HomeBase is now known as Greendale Recovery House, a 10-unit apartment complex for adults and single parents with children. Greendale is near the Rosecrance Harrison Campus, which offers easy access to services through the adult treatment program.

Greendale removes a barrier to safe and supportive housing, an obstacle that can often trigger relapse for adult clients, said Denita Lynde, Rosecrance’s director of housing. It differs from a traditional halfway house in that it provides 24-hour support through outpatient counseling, relapse prevention, 12-step meetings, supervision and by helping residents learn life skills such as interviewing, budgeting and time management.

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A Rosecrance Marlowe House resident reads in the second-floor sitting room of the home.

Monarch House, a licensed recovery home for 10 female adolescent clients, opened in 1997. The work was groundbreaking back then and still is today, as Rosecrance is the only organization in the state to operate a recovery home for teen girls.

Sullivan House, a recovery home for 14 girls, opened in 2001, and the residents of Sullivan moved into the renovated Hillman House in 2002. The two homes operated simultaneously until the newly built Marlowe House opened in 2008.

In 2009, Hillman’s interior was renovated and converted for use by adolescent boys instead of girls.

The average age of a Hillman or Marlowe resident is 17. While many hail from Chicago and Northern Illinois, teens come to the recovery homes from across the country. About 80 percent of clients move to the homes after completing inpatient treatment at the nearby Griffin Williamson Campus. Rosecrance also accepts teens into the program from other inpatient programs.

Lynde said Rosecrance specializes in the treatment of adolescents, which many other facilities avoid.

“Kids are hard. They’re emotional, they’re impulsive, behavioral. Some people don’t always know how to deal with kids. I find it really rewarding to watch them change and make great strides within their lives,” Lynde said.

Expansion in McHenry County

Men and women ages 18 and older have new transitional housing options in Woodstock, a recovery home program overseen by Rosecrance’s office in McHenry County.

Rosecrance renovated two duplexes for 16 recovery housing beds total. The homes opened in October.

Chris Gleason, Rosecrance’s director of McHenry County services, said clients likely will live in the homes about six to nine months. Programming will mirror services provided at Greendale in Rockford.

“It’s really an opportunity for them to apply the recovery skills they learned in treatment and give them a supportive, sober environment in which to practice that,” Gleason said.

Rosecrance opened its office in McHenry two years ago and started offering services in January 2014 in Crystal Lake. The recovery homes are a natural complement to the
outpatient substance abuse and mental health services available in McHenry County. Rosecrance hired five new employees to staff the homes.

College and recovery combine 

Rosecrance will strengthen its ties to the Chicago community by opening a new coed collegiate recovery residence in the city. Fundraising is underway for the project, and staff is working to secure a location for the home.

The mission is to help young adults in recovery by providing sober living and creating a like-minded community, said Chris Yadron, Rosecrance’s director of Chicago recovery services.

The collegiate recovery home will be a sober living residence for people ages 18 to 26 who are either attending college or who intend to enroll in college. Residents may attend any academic institution.

This program will fill a need among college-age young adults faced with the challenges of maintaining recovery in the typical college environment plagued by binge-drinking and exceedingly high levels of drug use compared to other age groups. Residents must have completed a treatment program, be in recovery and be practicing a 12-step program.

“Substance abuse has an extremely significant impact in terms of impeding development,” Yadron said. “It’s important to establish positive, healthy relationships in young adulthood. When many of their peers are abusing drugs and alcohol, young adults in recovery can feel a strong sense of alienation being different from their peers and can struggle to form relationships.

“Recovery housing can remove that stigma and create a community built around sobriety principles.”

Rosecrance’s vision is to offer a collegiate recovery residence and integrated behavioral health clinic in Chicago. The clinic will offer psychiatric care, individual and family counseling, and intensive outpatient treatment for substance abuse or dual diagnosis disorders.

Written by Melissa Westphal.

This story is featured in the winter 2014 edition of Reach. Click here to read the issue.

Rosecrance CEO: Unique services lead to same destination

Note: This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Reach, which publishes later this week. Download a PDF version of this article (1.1 mb).

Download a PDF version of this article (1.1 mb).

At a recent conference, a long-time colleague in the addiction treatment field asked to have dinner with me, and his opening question took me aback: “Where are you going with this new mental health effort?” he asked, and then he went on. “Is this a trend toward integration that we are missing? How’s it going?”

It occurred to me that some other people might be wondering where Rosecrance is heading. The wonderment may be occurring from two directions – from the substance abuse treatment perspective and from the mental health services direction. Both treatment areas have strong advocates.

To answer the last question first: The merger is going very well. On Sept. 1, we will mark the one-year anniversary of the formal merger between Rosecrance and the former Janet Wattles Center. Our early integration of services predates that by eight months, as the two organizations formally “affiliated” at the beginning of 2011.

Over 18 months, we have combined our back office functions to improve efficiencies in such areas as finance, human resources, purchasing and technology. Saving money was not the goal of the merger, but being more efficient never hurts and allows us to serve more people with the resources we have.

At the same time, we are making strides toward integrating services for people with co-occurring disorders. We are working toward a time when we can offer “one-stop shopping,” so to speak, to clients with dual diagnoses of substance use and mental health disorders. We were already doing that to some extent before the merger, and our progress in that direction continues to move forward. We are serious about recovery, and we need to treat the whole person.

Meanwhile, many of our services have remained and should remain distinct and unique from one another. Graphically, think of it this way: Say substance abuse services are contained within a yellow circle. Mental health services are in a blue circle. Push the circles together so that they overlap on one side to create a new area of green. Clients in the center need services from both sides.

While the number of clients who could rightly be placed in the green area is growing, Rosecrance still offers services that are unique to mental health and unique to substance abuse. We continue to embrace the evidence-based practices that lead to lifelong recovery, wherever the client fits in the interlocking circles.

The key concept is summed up in the word recovery. It’s where the rubber meets the road, if you’ll pardon the cliché. It is the unifying theme of what we do at Rosecrance, regardless of whether the client came to us for help with substance abuse, mental illness or both. And to my colleague who sparked this thought process: Thanks for asking.

As we continue to move our mission forward, please keep our board, our staff and the clients we serve in your prayers as we all go, by the Grace of God, one day at a time.

– Philip W. Eaton, President/CEO

Life reclaimed: Vietnam-era vet reaches goals after living on streets

Note: This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2012 edition of Reach, which publishes later this week. Download a PDF version of this article (0.9 mb).

Patrick Garcia is seen in front of a full-scale mural he painted on the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on 7th Street in Rockford. Garcia calls the mural his “comeback art.”

Patrick Garcia issues orders into a walkie talkie. A worker he supervises at the Millennium Center in Rockford applied the wrong kind of spackle to repair a hole in the wall, and Garcia doesn’t have time to take care of the situation before lunch. It’s a relatively small problem for Garcia, 58, but one he takes pride in remedying. He’s been building manager at the facility since July 2011. He considers it an amazing opportunity. And it really is, especially when you consider that just a few years ago, Garcia was homeless.

A traditional upbringing
Garcia spent the better part of his life behind bars. He endured two failed marriages. He missed out on relationships with two children. He lived on the streets. He blames all of it on drug and alcohol abuse.

But for more than five years – since 2006 – he’s been putting his life back together.
Patrick Eugene Garcia was born in 1954, in Plant City, Fla., the eldest of four children. He grew up in a traditional Catholic home – no swearing, no drinking and plenty of hard work.

Garcia describes his childhood as “exactly what you’d expect from that era.” His father was strict, but not harsh, and his mother was a nurturing homemaker. He tapped into his artistic side by the time he was 6, sneaking into his father’s study to watch him paint and draw. The discovery would spark a lifelong interest in the arts.

Garcia finds no fault in his upbringing, and doesn’t connect any dots that led to the turmoil he would encounter later in life. If you’re looking for where things began to go wrong, you could point to July of 1971, when he enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 17.

Because of his budding artistic skills, the Army trained Garcia as a medical illustrator. He remained stateside during the war in Vietnam, but developed survivor’s guilt after seeing his peers return to the U.S. with debilitating injuries. He was 18 when he began abusing substances.
“I was drinking a lot,” Garcia said. “Beer was a dollar a pitcher. It was just what you did. It’s what we all did.

“I started doing other things, too: Pot. LSD. Mescaline. Speed.”

It was the beginning of more than three decades of substance abuse. After the Army, Garcia’s abuse devolved from experimentation to addiction. It began with habitual glue sniffing, but his addiction would lead to other drugs, as well.

In trying to pay for his habit, Garcia was arrested several times for burglary and other financially motivated crimes. The abuse also cost him two marriages and relationships with his children.

“Crack cocaine was my drug,” Garcia said. “Most of my adult life – at least three quarters of it – I’ve been locked up. All of it was related to drugs or alcohol.

“None of my family wanted me around. My father passed away in ’93. I was in prison at the time.”

Road to recovery
In 2006, during his fifth stint behind bars, Garcia found himself eligible to leave prison on parole – provided he could find a residence. His case worker suggested the Rockford Rescue Mission, which would accept parolees and provide a permanent address. Without the program, Garcia would have remained behind bars until his sentence ended in January 2012.

The Mission put Garcia in a one-year recovery program and gave him an opportunity to practice his painting, drawing and other artwork – something he saw as the key to his recovery. It wasn’t long before he was commissioned to paint a full-scale mural on the Veterans of Foreign Wars building on 7th Street in Rockford.

“I found out later that my dad was very proud of my artwork, which meant a lot to me,” said Garcia. “That mural was kind of my comeback art.”

Garcia’s talent was noticed, and he was recommended to Brad Gilbaugh after completing the Mission’s program. Gilbaugh manages Rosecrance’s Homeless Veterans Program, which provides transitional housing to veterans while they search for full-time housing and employment. Garcia spent about a year and a half in Rosecrance supportive housing.
“The guy has had some tough breaks in life – all related to drugs and alcohol – but when I first met him, you could tell he had the potential to succeed,” Gilbaugh said.

Gilbaugh put Garcia in contact with Nancy Vaccaro, who gave Garcia a job at the Millennium Center drawing portraits on Friday nights. Garcia parlayed the opportunity into his current full-time job.

“He made his mind up he was going to turn his life around, and he did it,” Gilbaugh said.

Today, Patrick Garcia lives a life free of substance abuse. He’s reconciled with his
family – he plans to visit his mom, whom he hasn’t seen since 2003, in Denver later this year. He works during the week at the Millennium Center and practices his art during his off time. Local newspapers occasionally feature his artwork.

Garcia recently earned a promotion, maintaining all properties affiliated with the owners of the Millennium Center. Because of his position, he was able to offer a job to another person actively involved in Rosecrance’s Homeless Veterans Program.

“We’re very proud of Patrick,” said Susan Black, his case worker during his time in the Homeless Veterans Program, “and I know he’s very proud of himself.”

Garcia shares the credit.

“I often thank God, and the people who work in the facilities, for what they’ve done for me,” Garcia said. “I believe that being in the Homeless Veterans Program taught me to believe in myself again. I’ve had a chance to start over.”

About Rosecrance’s Homeless Veterans Program

The Homeless Veterans Program is a maximum two-year program requiring complete abstinence from substance abuse. Attendance at Veterans Affairs meetings is mandatory, and participation in Alcoholics Anonymous or other 12-Step programs is encouraged.

Program participants live in a Rosecrance-run apartment for the duration of their stay. All money paid into rent is redirected into a savings account, which is then given to the veteran at the end of program to use for living expenses.

The goal of the program is to provide transitional housing while the veteran seeks full-time employment and housing.

Rosecrance's Reach FY2011 Annual Report Edition published

Download a PDF version of the complete issue here (20 mb).

Read this edition’s cover story “Rosecrance embraces behavioral health” here.

Read Rosecrance President/CEO’s Phil Eaton’s column on behavioral health “Rosecrance embraces behavioral health” here.

Rosecrance’s Reach FY2011 Annual Report Edition has published this week.

Interested in receiving Reach in the mail? Click here.

About Reach
Reach is published by Rosecrance Health Network three times per year to inform friends about events, programs and services. Rosecrance, a not-for-profit organization, has been serving families since 1916.

Rosecrance is licensed and partially funded by the Illinois Department of Human Services. Accredited by The Joint Commission, Rosecrance is a certified Medicaid provider and is approved by most insurance companies.

For more information: Call 815-391-1000 or 888-928-5278, or email us by clicking here.

Rosecrance CEO: Respect roots, embrace future

Rosecrance leads the way in behavioral health

Note: This article appears in the FY2011 Annual Report edition of Reach, which publishes later this week.

Download a PDF version of this article by clicking here (1 mb).

We measure everything we do against the yardstick of Rosecrance’s almost-100 year history.

Not that we’re opposed to change — far from it. Rosecrance has a tradition of evolving to meet the demands of society at a given time while anticipating the future.

What I mean is that we never forget our roots. We don’t grow for the sake of growth. We grow in response to the compassionate mission and values of our organization to address unmet needs in the community. As I look back on Fiscal Year 2011 and ahead to 2012, I can say with confidence that the tremendous changes we’ve experienced and those we anticipate are true, in spirit, to the legacy of our founders, Dr. James and Fannie Rosecrance.

Dr. Rosecrance, who established his practice in New Milford to serve soldiers returning from the Civil War, surely would appreciate our new program to treat veterans with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders. The Rosecrances most likely would understand the thinking behind the groundbreaking merger between Rosecrance and the former Janet Wattles Center. Our combined operations allow Rosecrance to better meet community needs.

As to the future, we took an important step forward through a new partnership with Crusader Community Health. We have “embedded” a licensed mental health counselor at Crusader to help primary care providers serve patients who come in for physical ailments but who also may need behavioral health services. This kind of integrated care is the wave of the future.

I marked a personal milestone in May at my 40th anniversary with Rosecrance. Sometimes I wonder where the years have gone. I was one of 14 staff members taking care of 24 boys with behavior problems back in 1971. Now, Rosecrance is nearing 600 staff serving more than 13,000 individuals each year.

So much has changed. Yet, the span of four decades disappears for me when I see the patients come into treatment for addiction or mental health crises. Their faces and their demeanor reflect the same distress and the same needs we saw back in the 1970s.

We are still here to serve with compassion and with quality. We might alter how and where we deliver care from decade to decade, but our mission of providing help, hope and the best opportunity for lasting recovery will not change — regardless of what challenges we face in the coming year.

This is our purpose, as we all go forward, with the grace of God, one day at a time.

– Philip W. Eaton, President/CEO

Behavioral healthcare means services for addiction and mental health

Note: This article appears in the FY2011 Annual Report edition of Reach, which publishes later this week.

Download a PDF version of this article by clicking here (4 mb).

Rosecrance now one of the most comprehensive behavioral health networks in Illinois

We now pronounce you Behavioral Healthcare.

The union of addiction treatment and mental health services places Rosecrance at the leading edge of the industry and positions the organization to offer patients the best in integrated care.

The category of “behavioral health” may be unfamiliar to some people, but it is the new terminology for the services Rosecrance delivers at all of its campuses.

In addition, the term best describes a more holistic approach to wellness that recognizes the importance of behavioral health to physical health.

The merger of Janet Wattles Center into Rosecrance makes the organization one of the most comprehensive behavioral health networks in Illinois. That bodes well for patient care, said Philip W. Eaton, Rosecrance President/CEO.

“True integrated care occurs when behavioral health needs are not necessarily relegated to stand-alone organizations,” Eaton said. “Our goal over the coming year is to offer ‘any-door access’ to services at our campuses as we continue to integrate services.”
When complete, any-door access should allow new patients entering through the front door at any Rosecrance campus to receive the behavioral health services they need. Inroads have been made in that direction. Addiction treatment services soon will be offered at the Ware Center, the renamed mental health center in downtown Rockford.

Recognizing the growing need for treatment of people with dual diagnoses of mental illness and substance abuse, Rosecrance opened a new inpatient unit in February at the Harrison adult campus to serve these patients. Across the organization, clinical staff members report a growing number of patients with co-occurring disorders.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by the year 2020, mental illness and addiction will surpass physical diseases as major causes for disability around the world.

On an encouraging note, national healthcare reform and parity legislation should open doors for patients who seek treatment for behavioral health issues.

The National Advisory Mental Health Council reports positive outcomes for individuals who receive appropriate care. For instance, the Council reports these success rates, by behavioral health category: 80 percent for bipolar disorder; 65-80 percent for major depression; 60 percent for schizophrenia; 70 percent for addiction.

From a positive perspective, Eaton said, behavioral health should be viewed as the desired outcome, not how individuals begin their relationship with Rosecrance.
“We start with broken people struggling with their place in life, whether from addiction or mental illness,” Eaton said. “Our staff is motivated by a belief in the human spirit to heal. We see it daily in what we call the miracle of recovery.”

An update on parity

Rosecrance Health Network played a central role in parity legislation that was passed by the 2011 Illinois General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Pat Quinn in August.

The new law echoes federal legislation that prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people who seek treatment for mental health or substance use disorders.

Renée Popovits, general counsel for RHN, championed parity legislation on the national and state levels, and she played a key role in drafting the state bill that eventually became law.

“The issue is simple: Behavioral healthcare is primary healthcare,” Rosecrance President/CEO Philip Eaton wrote in a Rockford Register Star guest column.