Bridges mission is to provide a broad range of community based behavioral and healthcare services to the residents of our area. We respond effectively to the needs of adults, children and families with a comprehensive range of prevention, mental health and addiction recovery programs. We are committed to creating a Healthcare Home for all the people we serve.
Bridges was founded in 1957 by a group of concerned and forward-thinking citizens in Milford. It provides quality and cost effective care encompassing a comprehensive range of outpatient mental health, addiction, community support, primary care and home-based services for both children and adults, including emergency services that are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. It serves nearly 7,000 people annually at sites in Milford, Orange and West Haven as well as surrounding towns. Home-based and mobile services extend this coverage to 14 communities in south central Connecticut. With the goal of assisting clients to lead healthy, fulfilling and productive lives, Bridges' recovery-focused services are available to adults, children, adolescents and families. Clients use their resilience to focus on their strengths and their ability to live a recovering lifestyle.
Bridges is the DMHAS appointed Local Mental Health Authority for the towns of Orange, West Haven, and Milford, serving adults age 18 and older with severe mental illness with outpatient psychiatric services, vocational rehabilitation, social rehabilitation, case management, jail diversion and residential services. The West Haven Mental Health Clinic is an affiliated agency providing outpatient services and case management to this population.
Our wraparound services for Young Adults are based in West Haven. They represent the most disabled population aging out of the Department of Children and Families and cluster into two groups: those with Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Schizophrenia and Developmental Disorders and those with histories of severe abuse and neglect, multiple foster home and/or institutional placements who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and incipient personality disorders. We provide transition planning, supported living, vocational and/or educational supports, social/cultural/recreational skill training, peer advocacy and outpatient psychiatric support for the youth and, when available, the family support system.
Our outreach and home-based services address the population of at-risk, fragile families and vulnerable individuals with complex problems.
Bridges also maintains an annual Continuous Quality Improvement Plan, monitored by a Quality Council that as oversight of all policies and procedures.
Bridges is proud of several notable accomplishments this past year, including recognition statewide for leadership in providing truama focused services to children.
Bridges was chosen to participate in a one year training grant supported by the National Institute of Mental Health on Person Centered Care Planning as a Tool for Systems Transformation. This opportunity kicked off with an intensive 2 day training in January 2015, and continued through 2015 with the goal enhancing staff's skills in developing person-centered treatment plans and process.
CT Strong/Healthy Transitions is another pioneering new program that Bridges implemented in 2015. This initiative uses innovative approaches to improve rates of service engagement and outcomes with regard to housing stability, health and mental health, education and employment for youth and young adults aged 16-25 who are at risk for, or are developing a mental illness or addiction.
Bridges recently opened a Resource and Access Center for young adults ages 18-25, called Room 4. Based on a "drop-in model," the center aims to identify those young individuals who are not currently receiving mental health services, but who may be at risk for developing a mental health or addiction disorder. Room 4 offers young adults a comfortable, non-clinical setting where they may engage in healthy activities like yoga, art, music, games and conversation, have access to job and educational services, and ultimately be referred to critical behavioral and healthcare services.
Implement to a new electronic health record system that will enable Bridges to more accurately collect, analyze and report data and outcomes. This is a $200,000 project which Bridges is in the process of securing private funding for, and to date have about half committed.
Obtain adequate reimbursement for health care costs from insurers/state and federal sources. In order to meet true financial needs, we much work with legislators and insurers to obtain payment for services Bridges provides that reflect the actual cost of the service.
Seek additional collaborations with other providers to increase cost effectiveness and provision of services with maximized benefits.
Broaden our private and public funding base to include a more diversified base and larger, multi-year gifts that ensure sustainability for the future.
Bridges' Home Based Services for Children and Families, including our Intensive In-Home Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services, extend Bridges coverage beyond Milford, Orange and West Haven to include Ansonia, Bethany, Derby, Seymour, Shelton, Woodbridge.
Assists young adults, ages 18 - 25 whose lives are affected by mental illness, to help them reach their fullest potential and improve the quality of life. Prepares young adults who are transitioning out of DCF/foster care for independent living by offering a variety of community-based supportive services, with sensitivity to individual needs and strengths. The program offers young adults the opportunity to achieve independence by providing clinical, vocational and social rehabilitation services that are tailored to meet their unique needs. Clients may choose to join the residential program and reside in an apartment on-site, or may live in the community with family or significant others while utilizing any/all of the services that are available.
Excerpt from letter written by YAS client transferred to a higher level of care:
I wanted to tell everyone that I am fine – I’m better, or at least getting better. It’s been close to two weeks that I have been clean and sober – no booze, no dope, no pills. Just me. I am meeting me without the crutch and I’m a little scared – no a lot scared! I have a temper, and some anger issues and I’m not always nice to people, especially those who are trying to help me. I’d like to say that I’m sorry for my past behavior, I’d like to blame it all on the drugs, but that wouldn’t be the truth – the issues are there and I need to work on them. I’m going on my next step in my recovery, another new place with new people and staff. I’m really scared but also really excited and happy that I have a chance to work on me, get to know me, and try to make me the person I want to be. I know I have people in my corner, some are new and some have been there a long time. Thank you for staying. It helps to know that I am not alone. It’s not easy to ask for help or even expect it when you have done the things that I have, but I’m asking and I’m praying that I have the strength to do this. It’s not my first time trying, I’m just hoping that it will be my last time and that I can remain clean and sober and then maybe work on why I’m so angry. Clinician said to think of this as a gift, she always says things like that, to make me think. I don’t always do the thinking right then, but I do later. It’s not easy listening to ya all, growing up, making your own decisions – but mostly, it’s not easy moving on. It feels like stepping off a cliff. Thank you Case Manager for being a pain – you believed in me when I did not believe in myself. Thank you Staff for not giving my apartment away, I’m scared to come back, but I’m glad I have a place to come back to. You were right about the medical detox – I could have never made it through without the help. Thank you all for giving me a chance – again."
Collected data will address the effectiveness of the program based on health indicators (baseline and follow-up labs on cholesterol and glucose, blood pressure, weight and BMI) as well as consumer satisfaction. A sub-contracted evaluation firm will run data and correlational analyses. Outcomes will measure the increase in access for clients leading to adequate follow-up and treatment, a better understanding of medical illnesses and greater proficiency in using health and wellness resources.
Barbara DiMauro joined Bridges in 2006 as the Assistant Clinical Director and was appointed Chief of Services in 2011 to oversee clinical and administrative operations of all programs and services.
Barbara has led a number of trans formative initiatives to improve the quality and consistency of care clients receive, including restructuring departments to integrate all services with internal and external primary and specialty care providers. She also led the implementation of an on-site full service pharmacy at Bridges.
She brings extensive background in the mental health field, blending both clinical and management expertise. She worked for 8 years at St. Raphael's Hospital, serving as a Psychiatric Clinician in the Emergency Dept and then as the Director of Outpatient Psychiatric Services.
She received her Master’s Degree in Social Work from Fordham University in 1987 and has held positions in various settings, including hospitals, community outpatient and child welfare over the past 28 years.
Bridges’ programs and services continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of the community. We know that many disorders begin to emerge in the teen years, yet are often undiagnosed and untreated until a crisis develops. Early identification and treatment can change the course or severity of a mental illness or addiction. The lives of the affected person, their family and others may be significantly less disrupted when quality care and support is provided in the early phase of an illness or addiction.
Bridges is proud to be one of three agencies in our state to offer CT STRONG - Healthy Transitions, an initiative that engages and connects young people ages 18 – 25 to high quality behavioral healthcare, with the goal of improving housing stability, health and mental health, education and employment for teens and young adults. The agency also received state funding to establish a drop-in resource center for transition age (18-25) young adults, who are having difficulty progressing to the independence and responsibilities of adulthood. The drop-in center will offer a safe and private, non-clinical space for young adults to meet with peers and staff to discuss concerns, make connections to health or behavioral health services, and access assistance for educational and employment opportunities. The center will open at the end of 2015.
In FY’ 2015, Bridges provided direct services to 1,683 adults and 470 children in our area. When combined with services for family members in a treatment plan, and all other programs including prevention, community and employment support and young adult services, Bridges touched the lives of over 9,000 people in the past year alone.
Following a year when Bridges faced one of the most significant financial challenges in our 59 year history, we can report that we have stabilized our budget and further reduced our operating costs to meet revenue forecasts. While cost-cutting measures often mean diminishing the level of services, our fiscal health is the foundation for everything else we do at Bridges, and must be managed accordingly.
To that end Bridges’ joined an important advocacy campaign, #PeopleMatter. Organized by the CT Community Providers Association, this initiative was created to raise awareness of how all people are harmed by uninformed budget cuts to the mental health, addictions and other services that help thousands of people live safe and healthy lives.
When faced with the reality that cutting vital services would almost certainly result in lives lost and families broken, Governor Malloy and our CT State Legislators restored $17 million of the $25 million in proposed budget cuts to the Governor’s 2016-17 biennial budget. At Bridges, we breathed a short-lived sigh of relief and got on with our mission to help people recover and achieve their goals. We could not do this without the support of the many individuals, businesses and community partners that help sustain this agency year after year.
Our legislators are still trying to remedy decades of financial missteps and the Governor has proposed budget rescissions once again. We continue to remind them that #PeopleMatter. We know the answers aren’t easy, but the solution cannot come at the cost of our most vulnerable citizens. The chronic underfunding of community behavioral health providers like Bridges impacts all residents of our area, and throughout the state.
We are hopeful the new year will bring positive changes, and would like to note that in 2017, Bridges will celebrate 60 years of providing services in our community. We are planning a series of educational and community events on current trends and issues in mental health services, and will recognize the many who support us in our mission. We hope our loyal and generous supporters and community members will join in this initiative to honor our past, celebrate our present, and prepare for a strong future of helping children, families, adults and young adults live healthy and productive lives.
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We have reached the tipping point as DMHAS is once again confronted with the need to surgically cut adult outpatient grants. Cuts on already financially unstable outpatient services will create a community and statewide crises. Lives are at stake and thousands of adult clients will be at risk of having inadequate psychiatric care and medication management.
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