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Gary Vanderlinden, Chief Human Resources Officer
The staff psychiatrists provide inpatient care for Regional patients needing psychiatric hospitalization on the inpatient unit at the Strawhun Center. In addition to their inpatient work, psychiatrists offer psychiatric evaluations and medication reviews for outpatient clients.
Each psychiatrist provides supervision and consultation to one or more of the treatment programs at Regional. They function as clinical leaders for the multi-disciplinary team staffing. There are currently nine adult psychiatrists, two child psychiatrists, and an Addictionologist providing services at a multitude of Regional sites. Three clinical assistants and two medical assistants help psychiatrists coordinate their services and provide back up. Outpatient nurses also provide assistance and support to staff psychiatrists.
Dr. Earlene Strayhorn
Shaylice Bragg, ANP
Theresa Cieslinski, ANP
Carolyn Burns, ANP
Inpatient Unit Staff (Strawhun Center)
The nurses assigned specifically to the inpatient unit report to the nursing supervisor, Douglas Mukorombindo. He is responsible for program implementation and provides direct supervision to staff. There is a designated Charge Nurse on each shift who is responsible for supervising the unit, coordinating day-to-day client care activities and making staff client care assignments. Each nurse is responsible for assisting clients and maintaining daily routines, and for creating a therapeutic milieu for implementation of treatment plans and general nursing care and services. The nurses implement treatment plans, including direct therapy and drug administration, and function as key members of the treatment team. Basic nursing care and services as required and/or ordered by the attending medical staff is also completed.
There is a psychologist/therapist assigned to the inpatient unit who is responsible for conducting group, family, individual, and psycho-educational therapy for clients; this person plays a key role in treatment staffing.
Case managers are dedicated to the inpatient unit to assist with intake evaluations, treatment planning and discharge/aftercare planning for individuals admitted to the Inpatient program. These individuals also work closely with families of clients and with community resources for coordination of services. They run a variety of group therapy experiences for clients.
Mental health technicians are responsible for providing assistance to clients by maintaining daily routines and maintaining the therapeutic milieu on the treatment unit. The technicians work closely with clients regarding their participation in treatment activities and with providing members of the treatment team with timely input and observations of client behavior and functioning on a 24-hour basis.
The activity therapist develops the program schedule, including the various activity therapy treatment modalities for the inpatient and other clinical programs.
The dietician functions as a member of the treatment team with responsibility for nutritional/dietetic diagnostic evaluation and treatment services in accordance within requirements of the client treatment plan. Clinical dietetic services and consultation are also provided to clients and staff throughout the Center.
Six nurse practitioners are contracted provide history and physicals for clients admitted to the inpatient unit and the substance abuse units on an as needed basis
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The two outpatient nurses provide individualized clinical nursing services to clients in the outpatient and day programs, and assist in the coordination of services between the outpatient psychiatrists and other Center programs. The nurses also facilitate evaluation and treatment of doctor only clients and provide assistance to physicians. In addition to medication education, outpatient nurses may provide education to other staff and clients regarding nutrition, HIV and sexuality related topics.
Emergency Services/Access Program Staff
Jim Blackwood, the program supervisor, oversees eleven Crisis Intervention Specialists assigned to both the Stark Center in East Chicago (Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Strawhun Center in Merrillville (24 hours, 7 days a week).
The Emergency Services program schedules new patient appointments and provides emergency psychiatric evaluation and referral for any individual or community agency seeking assistance. Emergency workers are stationed in Merrillville 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to provide phone and face-to-face evaluation. Staff in East Chicago are available Monday through Friday, generally from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The primary function of emergency services staff is emergency diagnostic evaluations, crisis intervention and linkage with appropriate programs either within Regional or with other community resources. The treatment philosophy of this program is an empathic problem solving approach that serves to lessen the immediate distress and assure that the individual will receive whatever ongoing assistance is needed to resolve the presenting problem.
Addictions Programs Staff
Regional Mental Health Center currently operates two residential addiction programs, one at each of its main centers. The addiction programs at the Strawhun Center in Merrillville include a non-medical residential program of thirteen beds and two addictions intensive outpatient treatment programs. Two licensed addictions therapists as well as the supervisor, Peggy Payonk, who is a master’s level licensed clinical addictions counselor, and seven addiction technicians are responsible for providing counseling and educational counseling to clients in these addictions programs.
The residential addiction program at Stark Center in East Chicago has twenty-three available beds that are assisted by the supervisor, Victoria Charleston Hanley, a licensed clinical addiction counselor, one licensed master’s level therapists, three LPNs, seven addictions techs, and one case manager.
Adult Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Staff
One service director, Angela Erb, and two supervisors Jared Eaton and John Breslin, manage an array of services for outpatient clients and their families. Though the target population is generally adults, children and families are also serviced in the outpatient clinics, including a specialized program for substance abusing adolescents.
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Five intake therapists, fourteen social workers with various certifications including addictions, eleven master’s level therapists licensed in either marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling, and Seven psychologists licensed as health service providers in psychology (HSPP) are dispersed among four sites throughout Lake County. They offer individual, group and family therapy.
Community Support Programs
Service Director, Denise Ladowicz, manages a variety of programs and services for adults with severe and persistent mental illness.
Case Management Teams, North and South
Thirteen case managers with bachelor’s degrees or extensive experience working in the field with chronically mentally ill clients, a vocational specialist, two certified peer support specialists, as well as two master’s level supervisors comprise two teams that provide home and community based services.
Peer Support Services
Peer Support is a consumer directed approach to recovery in which a Certified Recovery Specialist, who is in advanced recovery from their ownillness, offers their unique perspective and experience to help others in their journey to recovery. Peer support give teh individual an opportunit to work toward recovery with someone who had "been there" and can relate to what they are going through.
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) Staff
The team is composed of one master’s level supervisor, one psychiatrist, one nurse, one vocational specialist, one therapist skilled in substance abuse, and two bachelor’s level case managers. All of the ACT team member go into the community and the clients’ homes to provide services for those that are treatment-resistant, for the purpose of keeping the client in the community and out of the hospital.
Adult Intensive Resiliency Services (AIRS)
The AIRS team has three master's level therapists and two bachelor level therapists in addition to the licensed mater's level supervisor providing daily structured treatment services.
Residential Programs Staff
Regional has four supervised group living facilities and one intensive home located throughout Lake County for seriously mentally ill adults. 24-hour care is provided to the nine to fifteen residents that live in each facility. Each home has a bachelor’s or master’s level supervisor, a medical assistant and nine or ten mental health technicians that help the clients in their day-to-day activities, as well as meeting their treatment goals. The intensive facility also has a cook.
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School-based Programming Staff
Thirteen master’s level clinicians are providing outpatient services at schools in Hammond, Highland, Griffith, Lake Ridge, Hobart, Crown Point, Cedar Lake, and Merrillville. Therapists for at-risk children are assigned to one or two schools. They provide evaluation and therapy for children that have been referred by the teachers and administrators of the school. Currently, services are provided for all age ranges in the elementary, middle and high school setting.
Child Outpatient Services Staff
Six master’s level therapists provide individual, group and family psychotherapy at two outpatient programs that are specialized for children, adolescents and their families. One program is in Merrillville and the other is in Hammond. Psychiatrists are also available at both sites to see children and adolescents that require medication management.
Child Case Management Staff
Four case managers, split between the Merrillville and Hammond outpatient office, provide community based services to children and families as either an adjunctive service to psychotherapy or medication management or can receive case management as a stand- alone service.
Circle Around Families Staff
Nine wrap-around coordinators provide services to the clients involved in Circle Around Families. The goal of a system of care is to create and organize the supports and services to allow the child to live in the most normalized and least restrictive environment possible by “wrapping” supports around the child and family.
Head Start Staff
Three behavioral specialists assist Head Start at Head Start sites in East Chicago, Hammond, Lake Ridge, South County and Gary by providing case management services to children and their families. Services are provided for any child or family attending the Head Start program. In addition to case management, the behavioral health specialists provide primary prevention and education services to the Head Start families and the Head Start staff.
One licensed master’s level supervisor and two bachelors level case managers provide in home services eight to ten hours a week with each family. Families served by this intensive, in-home, family therapy model have children in imminent risk of placement, or have children in placement that cannot be reunified without intensive services