McLean Hospital Receives $12.5 Million to Establish Community-Based Psychiatric Rehabilitation Program

Donation represents the largest single charitable gift ever received by a Partners hospital

June 13, 2001 -- Belmont, MA -- An anonymous gift of $12.5 million to McLean Hospital will be used to create a comprehensive community-based rehabilitation treatment program for adults with chronic psychiatric illness. This unique program will offer and coordinate an extensive array of individually designed services for housing, education, employment, psychiatric and medical care, wellness and assistance with independent living. The program, to be based in Waverley Square, Belmont, will include a resource center, social and employment activities, staff offices and meeting rooms.

At a time of limited psychiatric services across Massachusetts, the program is expected to reach hundreds of individuals with lifelong psychiatric illness, most of whom are living or wish to live in the community. McLean has recently expanded its inpatient and outpatient services. This new program will address the critical need for community care outside the hospital environment.

"No other private facility in the state offers a comprehensive coordination of services like those which will be offered through this program. We are creating a new model of psychiatric care delivery in which rehabilitation services are designed based on the specific wishes and needs of each individual," said Bruce Cohen, MD, PhD, president and psychiatrist in chief for McLean Hospital.

"Most psychiatric rehabilitation programs are constrained to work on the opposite principle: They develop a program and must weave individuals into the framework of that program. This program is designed to provide the support necessary for individuals with psychiatric illness to live successfully in the community."

The McLean community-based program will involve close interaction among the individual, his or her family and friends, a resource coordinator, rehabilitation counselor, peer counselor, psychiatrist and nurse. Individuals referred to the program will first meet with a treatment team to assess their current life circumstances, including housing, psychiatric services, medical care, education, employment, social and spiritual needs. The team will then design and implement a rehabilitation and living plan. This process will vary from person to person due to the highly individualized nature of the plans.

"For example, while one individual may only need assistance in finding housing and accessing educational and employment opportunities, another person may request help in finding a supervised residence, acquiring pre-vocational skills, maintaining sobriety and applying for social security benefits," explained Paul Barreira, MD, chief of community clinical services for McLean Hospital and the newly appointed program director.

The length of time a person participates in the program will also vary depending on need. "Some may use the program to transition from a hospital level of care to more independent living in the community. Others may need and want long-term, program-supported living," noted Barreira, who will oversee establishing a rigorous evaluation of the program, which will take into account rate of employment, job tenure, community residential tenure, hospitalization rates and consumer satisfaction. In addition, the program will provide a new site for training opportunities for mental health clinicians of all disciplines.

Program staff will work closely with various agencies, such as the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, in assisting individuals to identify and utilize existing services.

"The gift that will establish this program is extraordinary because it was made specifically to support services that directly benefit individuals with serious mental illness," said Marylou Sudders, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. "The Department looks forward to working closely with McLean in this wonderful opportunity."

The gift is also unique in that it represents the largest, single charitable donation ever received by a member hospital of Partners HealthCare System, of which McLean is a part. Samuel Thier, MD, chairman and CEO of Partners HealthCare System, called the program a "creative solution" to addressing the crisis in psychiatric care today. "We need more models like this that provide the resources individuals need to function independently in their communities, rather than take up hospital or residential beds that are already in dire supply. Through this program, we are empowering people with lifelong psychiatric illness to help themselves plan and maintain their own recovery."

McLean's Cohen and Barreira hope eventually to expand the program. "We already have had other private donors and pharmaceutical companies show interest in supporting this new model of psychiatric care delivery, " said Cohen. "This is just one more way to demonstrate our continued and longstanding commitment to providing accessible and effective care for those affected by psychiatric illness."