Tragic events of this past year, which placed mental illness in the spotlight of public attention, deeply affected the Natchaug Hospital community, which lost loved ones and professional associates in the Sandy Hook shooting in Newtown. We may never know the answers to how and why someone would commit such an act, but Natchaug is committed to addressing what we know best – mental health – and to being part of the solution. For example:
Behind these initiatives is the larger goal of incorporating mental health into all health care; the artificial separation of mental and physical health care services contributes to stigma, disparity in care, and a 25-year shorter life expectancy for those with mental illness. Natchaug, one of five members of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, is addressing this challenge in three ways:
We invite you to read through this report for an overview of our work helping people find their way.
"Making A Difference"
There are times in life that challenge our strengths and change the way we see the world. This past year has been one of those times, and I am pleased to report that, at Natchaug Hospital, the organization and programs are as strong and vital as ever.
First and foremost, the outstanding leadership team and entire staff of Natchaug Hospital needs to be recognized for demonstrating that they are capable of growing in each of their individual roles. The best example of this is the incredible transformation we launched, H3W (How Hartford HealthCare Works), that will unleash the energy and creativity of our staff to improve what we do everyday. We continued to grow to meet our community’s needs by:
Many challenges were faced with creative energy. For example:
It is especially rewarding that after many years of advocacy, Connecticut was selected for the Federal “Medicaid Emergency Psychiatric Demonstration” and Natchaug, as the state’s sole site, will be able to improve access to care for Medicaid-insured adults in our region.
Our relationship with Windham Hospital, nearly six decades strong, was advanced during this past year. Our Chief Medical Officer Deborah Weidner, MD, MBA, recruited Carl Washburn, MD, a psychiatrist and psychosomatic specialist, who is now providing daily psychiatric consultation services to Windham Hospital’s inpatient unit and emergency department as needed. And last August, I accepted the appointment to serve concurrently as President and CEO of both organizations.
This unplanned opportunity to strengthen the benefits that the Hartford HealthCare system can bring to our region was made possible by the support of the Boards and management teams of both organizations.
Most notable among those making a difference this past year is David Klein, PhD. I know I am not alone in appreciating his contributions; his promotion to Chief Operating Officer understates the importance of his role at Natchaug and the extent to which we all value his leadership. I invite you into the stories that follow, to learn a bit more about the people and teams that are making a difference at Natchaug Hospital – helping people find their way.
"Connections for Life"
The list of behaviors is long and the experience for these clients and their loved ones is often overwhelming as they navigate the health care maze.
Disorders such as anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive, anorexia, bi-polar, and schizophrenia are more difficult and complex in their diagnosis than a broken bone, strep throat or diabetes. The diagnosis may even be misdirected because people with mental illnesses have higher-than-average rates of heart disease, diabetes and serious infections. This destructive loop contributes to a shorter life expectancy for those with mental illness – as much as 25 years shorter!
This is part of the back-story to changes at Natchaug Hospital and our parent organization, Hartford HealthCare. We are connecting our clients and our community with comprehensive, coordinated care - the right care at the right time at the right place and at a reasonable cost.
Hartford HealthCare connects Natchaug to an extensive network of specialty resources, research, and advanced technology that is focused on making the client experience as comprehensive and beneficial as it possibly can be. Our goal is to treat the “whole” person.
Natchaug is also connected with other health care organizations — Lawrence & Memorial Hospital contracted with Natchaug this year to manage all of its inpatient and outpatient psychiatric services, and Natchaug’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Deborah Weidner, is also the Medical Director of Behavioral Health Services at Windham Hospital. These connections formalize long-standing relationships, and help to simplify care for clients as they move between specialized treatment programs offered by our respective hospitals, and community providers.
Help is available for the young child, the ninth grader, the college student, and the business owner. Natchaug Hospital and the Hartford HealthCare team are creating health care connections for life.
As you read this report, our staff, and our clients will tell you this story, in their own words.
"Empowering People. Changing Lives."Natchaug Hospital’s mission of helping people find their way to recovery from mental illness and from the often co-occurring disease of addiction is grounded in an unwavering commitment: to empower our clients to participate in their own care, education and recovery.
“We helped 4,717 people”* becomes more than a statistic when considered one story at a time.
Robert and his family who were seeking help as his retreat into a delusional world of nightmares put his job at risk. Kristen, who attempted suicide at the tender age of 13 while battling the highs and lows of bi-polar disorder. Jason, only six years old, whose explosive behavior was the only way he knew of to deal with the abuse he has experienced.
Each story involves a life that needs to be understood – the first step on the road to recovery. Natchaug Hospital’s staff is extraordinary in their dedication to helping people find their way: educating clients families, the community, and even our elected officials to better understand the complex world of mental illness and addiction.
The power of understanding has fueled important changes during this past year both within the hospital and at a national level. For example:
The power of understanding has also unleashed community support from every sector of our community; our appreciation for this generosity is celebrated throughout this report.
We invite you to review the benefits we have provided the community highlighted in the following pages, and to join us as we continue to enhance and strengthen our excellent treatment programs and community services for the future.
"Investing in Brighter Futures"
Never has the importance of behavioral health been more significant than during the past year. Throughout this period of uncertainty and economic distress, the story of Natchaug Hospital is one of continuity. We have developed several initiatives focused on our continued investment to expand access to behavioral health care and our unwavering Commitment to Caring.
For example, evening treatment programs for adults are now offered at all four of Natchaug’s community-based adult programs. Thus, people with daytime employment and family commitments can receive the help they need. Two of our Joshua Center programs moved to larger facilities in Danielson and Enfield. Our Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services, launched in March of 2008, grew to accommodate more children and adolescents in need of in-home treatment.
During the past year we have realized the tangible benefits to improved access for children, with more than 100 additional children and adolescents served as a direct result of the Extraordinary Care Appeal and the generosity of the community that responded with an investment in the future of our children.
We invested in continuous improvement of quality and safety as an integral aspect of expanded access to care, including implementation of electronic health records. We also made systemic improvements in the areas of medication administration, and health information management using the LEAN approach to improvement. The September 2008 award of a full three-year accreditation and receipt of the “Gold Seal of Approval” from The Joint Commission affirm the commitment to patient care that guides all of Natchaug’s investments.
In a major investment in the future for patients and staff, Natchaug converted the 165 Storrs Road facility in Mansfield into a training center for our employees. We welcome college and university students for their internships in psychiatric medicine, encouraging them to consider careers in behavioral health fields. For feedback on how we’re doing as an employer, we conducted an employee satisfaction survey to enable us to glean key information on factors of importance in recruiting and retaining outstanding staff to carry out our mission. This survey has already led to the implementation of programmatic changes.
The formal independent audit of Natchaug’s finances presents a remarkable story of financial stability. That a stand-alone psychiatric hospital of our size is in the black, and has been for the past five years, is testimony to Natchaug’s management and staff, and to the community that generously supports our programs through charitable donations.
In June 2008, we welcomed Elizabeth “Betsy” Ritter, State Representative for the 38th District, as our newest Board member. She and the other 12 members of Natchaug’s all-volunteer Board have helped Dr. Johnson prepare for his planned retirement from the Board this June. “As Chairman, it has been an honor and a privilege to have served Natchaug Hospital during its time of incredible change: expanding and enhancing programs to better meet community needs.”
However, the most incredible, heart-warming changes taking place at Natchaug Hospital are those that happen one at a time in the lives of our clients and their families, as the care they receive in our programs helps them find their way!
"Answering the Need"
We continue to strive to address emerging community needs on a financially sound basis. While this may seem remarkable in today’s health care sector, it is a testimony to the extremely capable and dedicated staff of Natchaug Hospital and the support of our community.
During the past year we opened a new wing on our child and adolescent inpatient program, an initiative which responds to the need of our general hospitals for relief from the increasing number of young people arriving in emergency departments in acute psychiatric distress. Julia and Dr. Carl Lindquist have provided remarkable leadership with the Extraordinary Care Appeal, generating crucial financial support for this project from the community. In its first three months of operation, this expanded program has supported a 24% increase in pediatric and adolescent admissions.
More than half of the people under the care of Natchaug Hospital receive treatment in our expanded community-based outpatient programs. We launched a new intensive in-home program in New London County to support court-referred youth and other young clients and their families. Adults with daytime responsibilities of work and/or college are now able to receive treatment through Natchaug’s expanded evening outpatient behavioral health treatment programs in Groton, Mansfield, Putnam and Vernon. Additionally, our Enfield Joshua Center will answer the need for expanding school and after-school programs with a newly leased facility this summer.
Looking ahead, Natchaug is addressing the ever-increasing demand for clinical health care professionals by hosting more than 40 nursing, pharmacy, psychology and social work students for their behavioral health internships this year.
These answers to emerging community needs are guided by Natchaug Hospital’s all-volunteer Board of Directors, which is welcoming a new member this year: William Anderson, Jr.. This year also marks the milestone transition of Dr. George A. Little, in his 54th year with the hospital and his 31st year of service on our current Board. We have been fortunate to have had George’s sustained participation and support throughout this time. We look forward to his continued involvement with Natchaug Hospital as a Director Emeritus, maintaining an uninterrupted legacy with the Little family.
We are proud of our dedicated staff and their answers to the needs of our community, and we look forward with confidence as we continue our commitment to caring for people living with mental illness, substance abuse and special education needs. Always foremost in our minds is our vision of “helping people find their way.”
Providing extraordinary, compassionate care for those who suffer from mental illness requires a talented staff with many skills. One of the most important is active listening, which requires understanding needs and responding in an appropriate and timely manner. Active listening is a hallmark of the Natchaug Hospital team, and it supports the two tenets in our philosophy of health care: that a person’s journey through the health care system should be as smooth as possible, and that people should be able to receive the care they need as close to home as possible.
We’ve done a lot of active listening this year, including having our Board of Directors and senior staff make regular visits to each of our 15 programs so we can listen to patients, their families and the staff who provide their direct care.
In response to identified needs, we have launched two new programs. In our Putnam and Mansfield locations, and soon to be offered in Vernon and Groton, we are offering a state-of-the-art medication called Suboxone (buprenorphine), which suppresses symptoms of opioid withdrawal and decreases cravings, making it possible for patients to recover at home rather than in the hospital. Second, knowing that it can be difficult for adults who work during the day to find appropriate, convenient treatment, we are now offering evening programs in Mansfield and Groton.
Our Board and staff continue to support local, state and national advocacy efforts to provide payment for mental health services on the same basis as payment for general health services. We know that having a mental health disorder can be as serious as having cancer or suffering from heart disease. Yet, many who suffer from mental health conditions don’t seek treatment because they lack insurance, or their insurance excludes their condition or puts limits on their treatment. In the same vein, we continue to be active in the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut’s Healthcare Council, an effort that improves our collective ability to ensure that all people have insurance coverage.
Through actively listening to parents and healthcare providers, and by joining with volunteers from the community, we are expanding our inpatient program for children. This will eliminate long waits in the emergency rooms of our region’s general hospitals, or referrals out of the region. Parents and children will have faster access to the near-home extraordinary care they have learned to expect at Natchaug.
In each of our current and future endeavors, it is our intent to continue to listen, hear, and respond to the behavioral health needs of the Natchaug “community.”
Families from all walks of life have stepped forward to advocate for services that support recovery from mental illness. They make a compelling case to policy-makers and providers alike that we must maintain vigilance and continue the expansion of community-based treatment resources.
At Natchaug, we are proud of the role we play in this effort. We have joined
with family advocates and other community providers to ensure that services are
responsive to the needs of families. Our work in familyfocused services,
multifamily education and support
Family advocacy reflects a refreshing willingness to share that which once
was private, embarrassing, and frequently stigmatized – the stories of the
impact of mental health struggles upon family dynamics. Stories shared by
Natchaug families emphasize this point. For example, a local business executive
who recovered at Natchaug from a suicide attempt as a teenager. She indicates
that her successful achievement of a full life is
We have heard stories from parents, grateful that someone finally understood and could help with the challenges they were experiencing with their children. We have also heard from adult patients, recognizing and thanking Natchaug’s counselors and physicians for providing the life-changing “Aha!” moment of insight – the moment when their disease is correctly diagnosed, and they are finally steered onto the road of appropriate treatment and subsequent recovery.
At Natchaug, we are continuously increasing our efforts to meet the need for community-based behavioral health services in Eastern Connecticut, through our own programs as well as through partnerships and collaborations with other providers. One example of emerging success is Connecticut Community KidCare, a program now in its fifth year, which is reforming the delivery and financing of children’s behavioral health services in Connecticut. Another example is the Behavioral Health Partnership launched in January 2006, a program which links state funders, community providers, and families in the design and delivery of behavioral health care for children and families.
The substantial increase in Natchaug’s day treatment programs reflects our response to community need, the knowledge of which is the direct result of our community involvement. The sixteen members of our all-volunteer Board of Directors live in the communities we serve, and our staff are active as members of Boards of Education, town Finance Committees, fire departments, and other volunteer community services.
Above all, we are committed to providing the highest quality of care at every level of our operating programs. Our May 2005 certification by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, and this year’s renewed approval by Connecticut’s Department of Education of all of our school programs for the maximum five years, affirm this commitment.
Regardless of wars and natural disasters that may occupy headlines and press for society’s attention, one in four families will be experiencing the immediate impact of mental illness, either that of a family member or someone of significance in their lives. Natchaug Hospital is and will be here to help these families find their way.
"Building a Better Future"
Natchaug Hospital ’s Golden 50th year of service to the community is a story of growth and strength.
Increased services, institutional integrity, and financial stability. These are remarkable achievements for a nonprofit, free-standing psychiatric treatment organization. Other accomplishments are equally prodigious. For example:
An anniversary within Natchaug’s 50th was the celebration of Carol Marchand’s 35 years of service with Natchaug Hospital. The longevity among Natchaug’s staff provides a depth of experience and level of professionalism of which we are extremely proud.
We invite you to review the details of our year in this report and online at our web site, www.natchaug.org.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, the Management Team and our staff, we welcome you to the sustained and ever-growing Natchaug “family ”.
An open letter to Drs. Olga Little (1910 – 1997) and Mervyn Little (1908 – 1997), founders of Natchaug Hospital.
We are looking forward to celebrating the 50th anniversary of the hospital you opened on August 4, 1954. As you might expect, it is a time of great activity, endless details, and innumerable contacts with history. In the midst of this happy frenzy, we spread before us the photographs, certificates of accreditation, by-laws, testimonials, maps, architectural drawings and the rest -- and we pause for a moment to reflect.
First, please accept our profound thanks for your clear vision. You got it right. It’s about access, community support and recovery. You were dedicated to serving the community, providing the best medical care with compassion and respect for each person. Your attention to detail is impressive, but there are also what appear to be leaps of faith. It is there on every page.
Some of the people you hired more than a quarter a century ago are still here – Carol Dauphin-Kilburn, Jo-Ann Feeley, Carolyn Marchand, Claire Shea, Diane Richards, Peggy Raye Hynes, David Klein and many more – still providing excellent care to the more than 3,000 people receiving treatment each year. Our staff is what makes Natchaug programs so successful. They are professionals at every level, with high standards, unlimited compassion and the expectation that people can recover from mental illness.
The Board of Directors is actively involved with policy and governance issues and are the stewards of this legacy of helping people find their way. Among the several subcommittees they chair is this year’s five-year strategic plan. The continuity and perspective from long-term members such as Antoinette Ellzey and your son, George, are invaluable, as is the fresh perspective coming from our newest members.
We are still developing new programs, new ways to make behavioral health care available to more people. We continue to look for partners to make sure programs truly meet community needs. For example, this past year we worked with Community Health Resources and Johnson Memorial Hospital to open a new Joshua Center in Enfield, and facilitated the transition of the Thames Valley Clinical Day Treatment program to Natchaug from Saint Francis Care Behavioral Health.
You built Natchaug Hospital because there was no other place that would care for your patients with chronic conditions or long periods of recovery. Following your example, when the state, which did not have a place that could care for teenage girls in the juvenile courts who need intensive treatment for mental illness, asked for help, we responded. We are building the facilities and the program that the community needs. The new residential treatment center for girls will be dedicated in June 2004 as a unique collaboration between Natchaug and the Department of Children and Families.
And thank you for the name, Natchaug. The land between two rivers. Upstream, we know people will continue to need behavioral health care. We will be here for them, with advanced medicine and caring hearts. Downstream, we are proud of the thousands of people we have helped find their paths to recovery. Mostly, they are silent about their time at Natchaug. The stigma associated with mental illness lingers. But the land between the rivers is good – we’re growing new choices for better futures on it.
We are proud to be here, carrying your vision forward into the next 50 years.
On behalf of the Board, Management Team and our staff,
"With Values as our Guide"
Natchaug Hospital is making a difference. Thousands of people in communities throughout the state benefit from Natchaug’s care. Drawing on the hospital's nearly fifty years of experience in responding to community need, and guided by a clear understanding of the institution's core values, Natchaug’s Board of Directors and management are able to respond quickly and effectively in areas that further its mission and vision.
Natchaug Hospital’s core values – six statements that reflect the institution’s soul – emerged from an extended exchange in which all employees participated. We learned what, in hindsight, seems obvious: that compassion, teamwork, respect, empowerment, education and quality are fundamental to the way we treat patients and each other. Though recently adopted, these core values are not new. In fact, they reach back to Natchaug’s founders, who passed those values to us as the building blocks to create a better future for people suffering with mental illness, then and now.
A key component of Natchaug’s ambitious construction and renovation project has been the expansion of our capacity for inpatient treatment of children. Natchaug doubled its admissions of children for inpatient treatment this past year, significantly reducing (but, sadly, not eliminating) the stress on area emergency rooms.
The growing need for day treatment programs for school-age youth generated
waiting lists for Natchaug’s child and adolescent day programs – a year-round
phenomenon for the first time this year.
Natchaug Hospital is continuously alert to community need, assessing how, when and where Natchaug can further its mission.
When approached by Community Health Resources and Johnson Memorial Hospital to replicate the Joshua Center program in the Enfield area, Natchaug responded. A Natchaug Joshua Center will open in partnership with these organizations this month.
When the state of Connecticut solicited proposals for residential treatment programs to serve adolescent girls, Natchaug responded. The plan to build a facility staffed with specially trained professionals adjacent to the main hospital in Mansfield fulfills a well-recognized behavioral health need.
Natchaug is proud to serve as the primary provider of behavioral health care for Eastern Connecticut. Even in a year of national and international stress and uncertainty, the need for effective treatment of mental illness is recognized – a condition that knows no bounds of race, income, education or geography. Natchaug is confident it can help people recovering from mental illness and substance abuse find their way to living full, productive lives.
"A Helping Hand Can Change the World"
The headlines of 2001 from Natchaug Hospital reflect the American spirit of extending a helping hand to help improve the lives of our neighbors and the quality of life in our community.
As the tragedies of September 11, 2001 started to unfold, Natchaug’s experienced staff went into action. Mental health workers and therapists not already at work lent a hand by voluntarily coming in help their co-workers and patients. Students in Natchaug Hospital’s School program developed a 4-week plan to collect money for victims of September 11 that not only raised $746 but also the spirits of the entire hospital.
Earlier in the year Natchaug’s big news was the June 10, 2001 dedication of the expanded and renovated facility. Celebrating this dream of Natchaug’s founders, Drs. Olga and Mervyn Little, were Senator Joseph Lieberman and more than 200 of Natchaug’s friends and neighbors.
The new facility achieved virtually every goal that was incorporated into the design and construction, including the critically important 30 percent increase in capacity for inpatient treatment of children and adolescents. Concurrently, census in Natchaug's outpatient programs, including the Natchaug K-12 special education school, after-school treatment and adult day programs, increased 13.8 percent.
Helping hands from throughout the State worked as teams in Manchester, Putnam, Willimantic, Norwich and new London to make this dream of improved access to behavioral health care come true. The Century Appeal, which funded the expansion and renovation project, topped the $1,150,000 goal for community contributions in June, 2002. This testament to the dedication and hard work of more than 50 Century Appeal Leadership volunteers and 300 contributors from throughout the state was celebrated on June 13, 2002.