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 continues to undergo a period of change, challenge and opportunity.
We have completed the transition and implementation of the new building space and an onsite pharmacy, but continue to fine-tune logistical issues to ensure the most efficient use, as well as the comfort and safety of clients and staff.
In 2013-14, the agency implemented a CommuniCare initiative for the State’s Court Support Services Division (CSSD), which included an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for men, and most recently a Women’s IOP. This program has placed significant demands on Bridges operations, finances and staff, and we are working closely with the State of CT CSSD to develop more effective and efficient protocols and reporting procedures. This program serves a very challenging population of probationers with broad and intensive needs.
Bridges was also awarded a partnership in a new program called CareGivers Support Team. Working with Family Centered Services of CT, the program is designed to prevent the disruption of child placements and increase the stability and permanency of placements by providing in-home interventions with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) kinship, foster and pre-adoptive children and families.
As the Local Mental Health Authority, the State recently designated Bridges as a Behavioral Health Home (BHH). As a BHH, Bridges is required to establish an integrated service network to coordinate care to persons with serious mental illness and/or co-occurring addiction both within and outside its geographic area.
The goals of Connecticut’s BHH initiative align with the triple aim of the Affordable Care Act: improved experience in care, improved health outcomes and reduction of health care costs.
The six core BHH services include: care management, care coordination, health promotion services, comprehensive transitional care, individual and family support services, provision of or referral to community and social support services.
While Bridges has already established an integrated model of care, the new designation and additional funding will allow for expansion of this model and a more comprehensive approach to addressing the whole health of each client.
In terms of leadership, Michelle LeMere replaced Claire Phelan as Board President in 2014. Michelle has served on Bridges’ Board for nearly 10 years and has established several goals for the agency to meet under her tenure. Barbara DiMauro was named the new CEO and President of Bridges effective July 1, 2014 upon the retirement of long-time CEO Barry Kasdan. Barbara brings extensive background in the mental health field, blending both clinical and management expertise. 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.
Barbara and Michelle, along with the Board and staff share a vision for the agency that entails the following goals in FY15:
1. Broaden service delivery system to include more integrated care to become a whole health provider, particularly for un- and under-served populations. Estimates suggest there are approximately 5,800 Milford residents who are currently receiving no primary healthcare services, which very likely means those that require behavioral health services or at least screenings are not receiving those services. There is proven need and opportunity to serve more people in each of the three primary towns we serve.
2. Obtain adequate reimbursement for health care costs from insurers/state and federal sources. Despite ongoing advocacy efforts, non-profit community providers like Bridges are still reimbursed at about 60% of the cost to provide services.
3. Broaden and diversify our base of funding and secure multi-year donations to ensure sustainability.
4. Improve our ability to use collected data to demonstrate service outcomes and attract new funding partners.
Continue to build a network of support to increase client self-sufficiency and enable them to reach their fullest potential. Bridges safety net is one clients can depend on. With severe budget challenges, the state’s safety net funding is not as dependable. We must find new ways to ensure that Bridges’ clients receive the services they need to be successful in life.
Build capacity and increase effectiveness in order to meet demand. We are expanding our Bridgeport Avenue facility to include the building next to us purchased a few years ago with state assistance. We need more funds to complete the renovation. We will then be able to accommodate more clients in a new, state-of-the-art facility.
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' Emergency Mobile Psychiatric Services and 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 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.
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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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