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 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 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.
· In FY 2016,
Bridges…A Community Support System, Inc. became Bridges Healthcare, Inc. This name change reflects our commitment
to addressing the whole health of each and every individual that receives
services at Bridges. Through our Behavioral Health Home and Primary Care
Integration programs, we strive to improve both the physical and mental health
outcomes of children and adults.
· Bridges was awarded additional funding from DMHAS this year to address the opioid epidemic that is impacting individuals of all ages throughout the communities we serve. The funding has been/will be utilized for workforce training and development, community awareness events and educational materials for the public.
· The Young Parents Program of Milford (YPP), a small 501(c) 3, that was acquired by Bridges in April, 2016. YPP was established in 1985 to provide confidential pregnancy prevention services and education and support to parenting teens and young adults up to age 22. The program strives to help young people make appropriate, responsible choices regarding sexual activity and parenting, while assisting them to become self-sufficient individuals so they may live independent and productive lives. The incorporation of these services into our overall system of care has created a positive synergy between several programs, particularly those that serve the youth and young adult populations.
The most pressing need for Bridges and other community agencies which provide vital services through grants and contracts with the State of CT is for the State to resolve its ongoing budget crisis and implement reforms to the way it works with and funds human services providers. Studies done by the CT Community Nonprofit Alliance indicate that if the State were to convert its State-run LMHA's to private nonprofits the savings in the first year alone would be $34 million. Private nonprofits deliver quality services to clients for $7,300 less per person than state run operations. Yet, we continue to ride a fiscal roller coaster of recissions, late payments and inadequate reimbursements for services.
health and addiction services to children, adults and families is a role that Bridges has fulfilled for sixty years. The essential work of Bridges is to help create and sustain
healthy, safe, compassionate and vibrant communities. As Bridges CEO, and with nearly 40 years of experience in behavioral health, I am worried that the current legislative environment challenges our efforts to achieve this goal, and to effectively address the growing public health issues of addiction and suicide. On average, two people die from drug overdoses in Connecticut every day. Most of these deaths involve opioids. More people die this way than in car accidents. Though lifesaving legislation has been passed to combat the opioid crisis, its consequences loom large. Connecticut also has one of the nation’s highest suicide rates– nearly one per day. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the US. There is a strong link between suicide and addiction. Bridges’ staff are called upon to intervene in these serious and life-threatening problems each day. I am grateful and proud of the skills and dedication they display in helping clients resolve many difficult issues. We know that high quality, evidence-based treatment helps people recover from addictions, manage mental illness, and live healthy and productive lives. Prevention initiatives also play a major role in ameliorating both of these problems. With fully-funded, long-term prevention programs, we might see the kinds of success countries like Iceland have experienced,where an effective national program has dramatically reduced drug and alcohol use in teenagers, and helped kids become healthier and more resilient. These are the kinds of outcomes Bridges works toward on a community and family level. Bridges has engaged in prevention efforts for many years, and has increased our endeavors in response to the rise in suicide rates and opioid use. Our courses in Mental Health First Aid help people recognize and respond to a developing problem or crisis. We retain fiduciary responsibility for the Milford Prevention Council and support its work to reduce underage drinking and other substance use through social norms campaigns, educational forums and pro-social activities. Bridges will host community forums to increase awareness and educate people on the process of addiction and available treatments. At Bridges, we view our role in the community as essential to the health and well-being of all residents, and we are committed to meeting emerging needs with every resource we can marshal.
Most of us can identify family members or friends who in one way or another, at some time in their life have dealt with mental illness. It could be depression, anxiety, mood or eating disorders. For many it is serious persistent illnesses such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Addictions are on the rise in every demographic in the U.S. Whatever its type, mental health and substance use disorders can disrupt an individual’s life to the extent that they cannot manage their own healthcare, nor can they function well in society or even within their own family.
At Bridges, we know that people with mental illness or substance use disorders take better care of themselves when they are stable and in a process of “recovery” that allows them to understand and participate in their own treatment. We help clients develop a positive and meaningful sense of identity within the context of their particular illness.
Of greater concern to me are the continuing threats from Congress of cutting social service benefits and reducing financial support for the uninsured, under-insured and poor. This will only serve to target the most vulnerable in our country who will eventually show up in our emergency rooms with more complicated, untreatable illnesses that taxpayers will end up paying for on a larger scale. Already, people living with serious mental illnesses are dying 25 years earlier than the rest of the population. This group cannot be left behind as healthcare reform moves forward.
This is my special request to you. Be a partner with us in speaking up for people with mental illness and for including behavioral health on a par with medical healthcare reform in this country.
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.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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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