Proposed St. Thomas facility

Regional mental Health care

New patient appointment
24 Hour Crisis


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.

Inpatient Unit Staff (Strawhun Center)

The nurses assigned specifically to the inpatient unit report to the nursing supervisor, Judi Riley. She 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

Outpatient Nurses

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, Jim Berman, who is a master’s level licensed clinical addiction counselor, two licensed master’s level therapists, three LPNs, seven addictions techs, and one case manager.

Adult Outpatient Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Staff

Two service directors, Mike Cortina and Angela Erb, 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.

Five intake therapists, eighteen social workers with various certifications including addictions, seven master’s level therapists licensed in either marriage and family therapy or mental health counseling, and eight 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.

Mesa Fire looking to improve mental health care without
Mesa Fire looking to improve mental health care without ...
Emergency Mental Health Services at Bergen Regional
Emergency Mental Health Services at Bergen Regional ...
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