The Kent Center News Archives 2006

The Kent Center  PRESS RELEASE: DECEMBER 29, 2006
The Kent Center Names Wendy Stevens, Executive Director of Kent County YMCA, to its Board of Directors
Wendy R. Stevens, Executive Director of the Kent County YMCA since September 2005, has joined the Board of Directors of The Kent Center. Stevens’ career with the YMCA spans over 25 years. Prior to her current position, Stevens was Associate Director of the Kent County YMCA and she worked for the Valley Brook YMCA in Connecticut for 10 years. Stevens is Vice President of the Chapter 3 Association of YMCA professionals and is an Ambassador with the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce. Stevens holds Bachelors Degrees in Business and Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in West Greenwich with her husband. They have five children.

The Kent Center  PRESS RELEASE: NOVEMBER 22, 2006
Congressmen Kennedy & Langevin Visit The Kent Center’s Hillsgrove House
Congressmen concerned over current mental healthcare funding, yet optimistic about the future

Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Congressman James Langevin, two of Congress’s leading mental health and disability advocates, were enthusiastically welcomed by the members and staff of The Kent Center’s Hillsgrove House, Rhode Island’s only certified clubhouse model of service for adults with mental illness, during a morning visit on November 20, 2006. The hour and a half visit consisted of a member-lead tour of the clubhouse, as well as relaxed and spontaneous conversations between the Congressmen and members about everything from the New England Patriots to members’ personal challenges and successes with recovery.

Ann, a member for five years, for instance, told the Congressmen that she credits Hillsgrove House with helping her to manage her depression, which has kept her out of the hospital. Melissa, a fellow member, was also eager to share with the Congressmen that after several years of living in an institution, and then a group home and a supported apartment situation, she is moving into her own apartment.

The Congressmen ended their visit with a meeting with Kent Center and Hillsgrove House management staff and several members, where they discussed serious issues that impact the quality of life of people with metal illnesses. Topics included the clubhouse model of service and the Center’s assertion that a lack of funding is limiting access to an effective service option for Rhode Islanders. Kent Center President/CEO David Lauterbach explained that in addition to the employment and educational services members receive at Hillsgrove House, there is a community of support that is vital to recovery. Congressman Langevin concurred and stated, “Nobody gets through life without a support system, which is sometimes family, or the family we make [referring to what happens among members at Hillsgrove House], and most often a combination of both.”

Congressman Langevin also asked about the impact the new Medicare Part D prescription drug plan has had on clients. Sue Medeiros, Kent Center Vice President for Community Support Services, explained the most serious impact was to about 20% of clients who now incur co-pays for their medications, a significant financial hardship for people whose disposable income is negligible and who must take multiple medications to maintain their physical and mental health.

An overarching theme of the morning was the importance of parity in mental healthcare. “Imagine what it would be like if mental healthcare was treated on par with general healthcare,” proposed Congressman Kennedy, a longstanding proponent for parity who has worked to educate his Congressional colleagues on the topic. Parity would end discrimination in insurance reimbursement rates and co-pays for mental health services. “We are back at the table in Congress working on this issue. I sense a change in the air and am optimistic,” the Congressman stated.

“All of us at The Kent Center and Hillsgrove House are thrilled that the Congressmen have spent this time with us,” stated David Lauterbach. “We are grateful for their support and understanding of our challenges, and that they see a real possibility for change in the future.”

For 30 years, The Kent Center for Human & Organizational Development has provided behavioral health services to adults, adolescents, children and families living in the communities of Kent County. Hillsgrove House, a service of The Kent Center, was established in 1991. Hillsgrove House provides opportunities for work and rehabilitation as well as a restorative environment for adults who seek a fulfilling and productive lifestyle through community supports.

For more information about The Kent Center and Hillsgrove House call 738-1338, x335 or visit

Robin Costello, Press Secretary for Congressman Patrick Kennedy: 729-5600.
Joy Fox, Press Secretary for Congressman James Langevin: 732-9400.

The Kent Center  Senator Walaska Presents Grant
Hillsgrove House members and staff were thrilled to have State Senator Bill Walaska join them for their annual Thanksgiving luncheon, which was held on November 16th. It was indeed a day to give thanks as the Senator presented the club with a legislative grant for $1,500. The grant will be used to help upgrade computer systems at Hillsgrove House, which will enable clubhouse members to pursue their educational and vocational goals with greater ease and efficiency.

Roger Bergenheim, President & Publisher, Providence Business News; David Lauterbach, President & CEO, The Kent Center; Lela Coons, Warwick Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse; Kathryn Power, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services.

The Kent Center  The Kent Center Celebrates the Community Spirit at its Second Annual Awards Breakfast
In recognition of their efforts to improve the quality of life of people facing mental health and substance abuse challenges, and for and their overall commitment to the betterment of our Rhode Island community, The Kent Center presented its ‘Celebration of the Community Spirit’ Awards to A. Kathryn Power of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the Warwick Police Department, Providence Business News, and Lela Coons of the Warwick Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse. The awards breakfast was held on October 31st at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.

Outstanding Leadership Award to A. Kathryn Power, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Prior to her appointment to a prominent position within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Ms. Power served for 10 years as the Director of the RI Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals. She is now at the helm in Washington D.C. working to implement the recommendations of the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Illness: Transforming Mental Health Care in America.

To each of you receiving awards today, I applaud you and your organizations for the outstanding work
you are doing to support Rhode Island’s mental health community. Dr. Martin Luther King once said,
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?”
I think that he would find his answer right here in Warwick.
A. Kathryn Power, Director of theCenter for Mental Health Services

Community Partner Award to the Warwick Police Department for their collaboration with the Center’s Emergency Services staff and several other community organizations. For succeeding in creating one of the first and certainly more comprehensive trainings for officers to assist them in their encounters with people with behavioral health challenges, and for providing officers with a better understanding of mental illness.

It’s truly a humbling experience to be here today and accept this. Even if it wasn’t required,
this policy [on mental illness training] and practice was the right thing to do.
Colonel Stephen McCartney, Warwick Police Department

Media Champion Award to The Providence Business News . In addition to The Kent Center being named a Providence Business News Best Places to Work in Rhode Island, PBN was honored for the enlightened way in which they cover ‘business’ in Rhode Island. The reporting on healthcare, insurance, and housing, for instance, is sensitive to the needs of consumers, patients, those who struggle financially and the typical Rhode Islander. They were also honored for their coverage of the non-profit sector and adding a non-profit category to the Business Excellence Awards. Additionally, they were recognized for their coverage of mental healthfrom an article on stress in the workplace to one on the SHAPE study and othershas been most welcome and very helpful in raising awareness about the importance of mental health for the business community.

Eleanor Briggs Award to Lela Coons, Chair & Founding Member, The Warwick Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse for her boundless commitment to children and families and for her skill in bringing multiple resources together, through work with organizations such as the Warwick Coalition to Prevent Child Abuse, the Child and Adolescent Service System Program (CASSP), and many others.

One of the smartest things I do is surround myself with people who make me look good and I want to
thank all of them. I have a family here and this is where I live. You are my family. Thank you.
Lela Coons

The keynote address was delivered by Kathryn Power (Click here to read her speech). Ms. Power spoke about the trauma experienced by individuals and communities in the aftermath of man-made or natural disasters; how to prepare and how to heal. Ms. Power shared her experiences of working with trauma victims of Hurricane Katrina and other traumatic events. A very compelling and enthusiastic speaker, Ms. Power has led the charge to treat the issue of psychological trauma as a serious public health concern.

The Kent Center is doing a remarkable job collaborating with businesses and community organizations
to promote the recovery, rehabilitation, and rights of individuals with mental illness.
A. Kathryn Power, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services

In attendance at the ‘Celebration of the Community Spirit’ awards breakfast were Lt. Governor Charles Fogarty, who gave greetings from the state; Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian; State Senators William Walaska and Stephen Alves; Representative Victor Moffit; Dr. Ellen Nelson of the Department of Mental Health, Retardation and Hospitals, and nearly 200 guests from the business, non-profit, education and government sectors.

It’s nice to know that when people are down and out,
they have a place they can turn to where they can improve
the quality of their lives in Rhode Island.
I congratulate the award winners.
Lt. Governor Charles Fogarty

The Kent Center  The Kent Center Participates in Warwick’s Night Out
The Kent Center participated once again in Warwick’s National Night Out festivities, which were held on August 1st at Oakland Beach Commons. National Night Out encourages cities and town all across the country to organize a community event that focuses on crime and drug prevention. Staff from the Center’s Substance Abuse Programs gave out information about alcohol and drug prevention and substance abuse treatment to hundreds of people who attended.

The Kent Center David Lauterbach Interviewed on WRNI
The Kent Center’s President & CEO, David Lauterbach, was invited by WRNI radio 1290 AM, Rhode Island’s local NPR station, to share his views on public perceptions of mental illness in the wake of the Carpio murder trial. The interview, which was conducted by host Bob Seay, aired on Monday, June 26th.

The Kent Center PRESS RELEASE: MAY 19, 2006
The Kent Center’s Dr. Andrew Morris Among 16 Psychiatrists from Across the Country Named Exemplary by The National Alliance on Mental Illness

(Warwick, RI)Dr. Andrew Morris, a staff psychiatrist at The Kent Center for Human & Organizational Development, a community behavioral healthcare center located in Warwick, has been named a 2006 Exemplary Psychiatrist by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). He and only 15 other psychiatrists from across the country have received this high honor. Nominations are made through local chapters and are determined by people living with mental illnesses and their family members.

This year’s award recognized psychiatrists who are noteworthy for going the extra mile, and who demonstrate exemplary commitment and expertise in the area of disaster psychiatry and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). According to Chaz Gross, Executive Director of NAMI Rhode Island, Dr. Morris was nominated as a result of his outstanding diagnostic skills and excellent clinical care including addressing and educating consumers, families, and the general public about the treatment of psychiatric disorders, trauma, and PTSD. Additionally, he has received very high marks from patients and families. Dr. Morris accepted his award at the Rhode Island Chapter of NAMI’s annual meeting, which was held on May 17th at Butler Hospital. Dr. Morris will also be recognized at a breakfast, hosted by NAMI National that will take place at the 2006 American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Toronto on May 22nd.

“It is very gratifying to receive this award, and to be nominated for it based on the testimonials of the patients in my care as well as their families, is most rewarding of all,” stated Dr. Morris. Dr. Morris received his medical degree from Tulane University in New Orleans and did his Residency Training at George Washington University in Washington D.C. and the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. He was a staff psychiatrist at The Kent Center from 1992-1997, and then returned to The Kent Center in November 2001. Dr. Morris also held positions at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Pennsylvania and the Phoenix Indian Medical Center in Arizona. Forever drawn to Rhode Island however, he now lives in Wakefield with his wife and three children.

The Kent Center  PRESS RELEASE: APRIL 25, 2006
Kent County’s Mental Health Provider Honored with National Award

Rockville, Maryland The Kent Center for Human & Organizational Development in Warwick, Rhode Island has won the Excellence in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Awareness Award from the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. The award recognizes organizations that have advanced awareness and understanding of mental health and substance abuse problems, while encouraging individuals to seek the treatment they need.

The Kent Center won the award for its comprehensive public education campaign, Seek Treatment: It Works. Through this campaign, the center earned more than 500,000 media impressions daily, by working in partnership with local media outlets such as Cox Communications (pro-bono cable television and print media), and with the placement of radio spots with WHJJ-AM, WPRO- AM, WSKO-AM, and WRNI-AM.

“The Kent Center has done an outstanding job of helping people in Warwick and throughout Rhode Island better understand mental health and addictions problems,” said Linda Rosenberg, MSW, president and CEO of the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. “By improving awareness, and helping individuals to access the treatment they need, The Kent Center is building a compassionate community that respects and supports individuals who are experiencing behavioral health problems.”

The Kent Center’s aggressive media campaign was supported with interactive educational opportunities such as health fairs, educational forums and community events. The center also reached out to the Kent County business community through a partnership with the local Chamber of Commerce, helping the region’s business leaders better understand the impact of untreated mental illness in the workforce and the benefits of providing appropriate support to employees.

“Raising awareness in communities about the importance of mental health can be daunting,” notes David Lauterbach, The Kent Center’s president and CEO. “The lingering stigma remains an obstacle for some, but we know the messages of our campaign are being heard and heeded by many.”

The campaign’s cable television Public Service Announcements ran from June through December 2005. The campaign’s radio spots ran in the fall of 2005 and in February-April, 2006, and can be heard on The Kent Center’s website at The Kent Center is working on running radio spots again in 2006.

David Lauterbach accepted the award on April 10, 2006 in Orlando, Florida during the National Council’s annual conference.

“This award from the National Council is a great honor and it gives us a renewed energy to continue our efforts,” said Lauterbach. “Creating a well-informed public is indeed an important part of our Center’s mission.”

The Kent Center Senator Reed Participates in MTT’s Vocational Workshop
The Kent Center’s Mobile Treatment Team II organized a series of vocational workshops which will run for seven weeks from March 30th through May 11th. Highlighting the series was Senator Jack Reed who visited Kent Center clients and staff at the Center’s West Warwick office. The Senator spoke about some of the federal programs, including the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act which has made it easier for people with disabilities to work without losing vital benefits.

Also, participating in the vocational workshop series is Reed Cosper, Mental Health Advocate, representatives from organizations including Ocean State Council on Independent Living, the Volunteer Center of Rhode Island, Social Security Administration, and local business.

The Kent Center PRESS RELEASE: MARCH 17, 2006
Warwick Police Department calls upon Kent Center and other organizations to develop model training program for officers
Prompted by a new standard, entitled ‘Mental Illness,’ issued by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, the Warwick Police Department has joined with several organizations, including The Kent Center, Kent County Memorial Hospital Emergency Services Department, the Warwick Fire Department and Department of Corrections to develop a model training program to assist officers in their encounters with people with mental illness.

The first training was held on March 15th in two sessions9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3 the community room at the Warwick Police Station. The trainers included Lisa Yanku, Program Manager of Emergency Services for The Kent Center. Lisa explained some of the ways that police officers and her Emergency Services staff might be called upon to work together in crisis situations involving people with mental illness. Additionally, she explained some of the common characteristics people with mental illness may have if in an agitated state and offered many techniques officers could use to de-escalate emergency situations. Approximately 200 sworn officers and civilian employees attended the sessions.

This training will ultimately be available to officers in other departments across the state and will be presented to the Police Officers Standards and Training Commission for inclusion in the police recruit training program.

The Kent Center FROM ASYLUMS TO A LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY: A HISTORY OF THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT by A. Kathryn Power, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services

The Kent Center, founded in 1976, exemplifies the advances in community mental health established over the last several decades. The Center’s staff provides adults, children, and families with a full array of behavioral health treatment, education, and consultation services in a variety of settings. The occasion of The Kent Center’s 30th anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of community-based treatment. The successful treatment approaches utilized at The Kent Center and other CMHCs across the Nation are preceded by a long and complex history of mental health treatments.

Past attempts to assist those with mental illnesses were characterized by ignorance, societal fear and stigma, and well-meaning but often faulty legislation. Although the current mental health system is still far from perfect, many battles have been won by the pioneers in mental health who laid the foundation we are continuing to build on. A brief look at this past reinforces the successes achieved by The Kent Center and others, but also puts into perspective the importance of this generation’s role in continuing to transform the mental health system.

Philosophies of Treatment
Shortly after colonial settlement of the United States, individuals with mental illnesses were kept at home or in State asylums and received no treatment. Early reformers, such as Dorthea Dix and Horace Mann, proposed “moral treatment” for those in asylums, but their efforts did not prevent the inhumane conditions that were ultimately exposed to the public. Subsequent reform movements attempted to apply the emerging concepts of scientific medicine and social progressivism, and asylums were renamed “mental hospitals.” However, effective treatments for chronic mental illnesses were unavailable. At best, mental hospitals provided humane custodial care; at worst, they neglected or abused patients.

The shift in thinking to community care and treatment began during World War II. Screening of military recruits for psychiatric problems led to a recognition of the extent of mental health problems in this country and the creation of The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1946. The block grant program directed by NIMH led to the creation of many outpatient mental health clinics. New drugs were developed for the treatment of psychosis and depression, which, along with an increasing recognition of the value of community-based treatment and rising institutional care costs, contributed to “deinstitutionalization” in the 1960sthe discharge of thousands of patients from State hospitals. Outpatient services in the community expanded in an attempt to meet the needs of those discharged with serious and persistent mental illnesses. However, communities lacked adequate housing, effective treatment, vocational opportunities, and income supports for those who were unable to work. Many discharged patients ended up in criminal justice institutions, while some became homeless.

The first legislated attempt to unify the fragmented community arrangements of hospitals, clinics, and agencies providing mental health services took place under the Kennedy administration. Congress passed the Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act in 1963, which established networks of “community mental health centers” under a categorical grant program, primarily as a safety net for those who could not afford to pay for services. The “CMHC Act” shifted control of the community mental health system from the States to the Federal Government. The legislation and regulations that established CMHCs helped define the concepts of comprehensiveness, continuity of care, accessibility of services, and community involvement. However, Congress built time-limited and declining Federal support into the CMHC Act, and many CMHCs developed serious financial difficulties within a few years of opening. In 1980, under President Carter, Congress increased funding for dwindling community-based services.

However, in 1981, under the Reagan Administration, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act repealed Carter’s legislation and returned primary authority for mental health services to the States under a new block grant system. Fifty distinct State mental health systems were created, leading to large reductions in direct funding for CMHCs. Fortunately, many States wisely contracted with CMHCs to provide services to deinstitutionalized and other priority populations. In the 1990s, increased Medicaid funding and the community mental health services block grant authorized under The Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration Reorganization Act of 1992 strengthened CMHCs.

The Kent Center: 30 Years of Adaptation
This context helps us appreciate the resiliency and vision of the CMHCs that survived and even thrived despite numerous policy changes and shifting financial structures. The Kent Center has its roots in the 1970s era of reform, and since then, has continually adapted to the needs of Rhode Island’s population. The Center’s recovery-based emphasis arises from the belief that individuals can become fully participating citizens of the community when given proper support and access to a broad array of resources. In addition, services are consumer and family-driven. The Kent Center’s Community Support Programs (CSP) embody these principles, providing a coordinated system of care for adults with serious and persistent mental illnesses, enabling individuals to achieve and maintain psychiatric stability, a quality life in the community, and ultimately, personal recovery. The Kent Center’s Children’s Intensive Services Program (CIS) provides children, teens, and families in crisis with the care needed to stabilize and improve their situations. The Kent County Child and Adolescent Service Systems Program (CASSP) was established by volunteers, with the Kent Center as its fiscal agent, to assist families in navigating the system of care for their children.

A New Era of Reform
Many of you know that we are now on the threshold of a new era of reform targeted at the core of the Nation’s mental health system, a reform effort that will literally “transform” the way we do business at the local, State, and Federal levels. The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999 Olmstead v. L.C. decision affirmed the right of individuals to live in community-based settings. In June 2001, President Bush issued an Executive Order promoting community-based alternatives for individuals with disabilities and directing key Federal agencies to work closely with States to ensure full compliance with the Olmstead decision. In April 2002, the President signed another Executive Order establishing a New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to study the system and make recommendations for improvements in Federal and State Governments, local agencies, and public and private health care providers.

The 2003 report developed by the New Freedom Commission, called Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America, confirmed that our society is still not meeting the needs of millions of Americans with mental illnesses. It concluded that we must fundamentally transform our Nation’s approach to mental health care. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Federal Action Agenda provides a roadmap for these changes, which are already underway in many Federal agencies, State systems, and local communities. As we have seen, progress in mental health treatment takes time, but more importantly, it takes a focused commitment to “a future when everyone with a mental illness at any stage of life has access to effective treatment and supportsessentials for living, working, learning, and participating fully in the community.” (Achieving the Promise, 2003). I believe the administration and staff at the Kent Center have that special commitment. We are fortunate that they represent the thousands of CMHCs that will continue to provide unwavering day-to-day supports and services focusing on recovery, while participating enthusiastically in the next wave of change in mental health care across America.

The Kent Center was selected as a winner of the Providence Business News 2006 Best Places to Work in Rhode Island competition. The announcement was made in the February 6th issue of the Providence Business News and will be followed up in the April 17th issue with a special section that focuses on the fifteen winners from across the state. The RI State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management, Care New England and the Best Companies Group teamed up with the Providence Business News to allow Rhode Island’s best companies an opportunity to be recognized for creating an outstanding work environment for their employees.

The Providence Business News, toting balloons, flowers and a banner, made a surprise visit to The Kent Center’s March 8th All-Staff meeting to congratulate staff on the Center’s selection as a Best Place to Work in RI
(Click on photo for larger view)


The designation ‘Best Place to Work’ is based on the review of a company’s human resource policies and practices, and overall employee satisfaction. The application process was rigorous and included the submission of a questionnaire that included over 100 questions in areas including compensation and benefits; people practices such as orientation, training and employee recognition; communication practices; corporate citizenship; and leadership development and career advancement opportunities. Additionally, employees were asked to fill out surveys that included 65 questions based on a five-point rating scale. 173 Kent Center employees participated in the organizational assessment process. Modern Think, a national research and consulting firm tabulated and analyzed the data resulting in a rating that determined the winners.

“It is important for The Kent Center to create an environment that supports our employees and makes our organization a great place to work,” said Tom Powell, Director of Human Resources. “It was tremendously affirming to receive the recognition as a “Best Place to Work in RI” from such a prestigious group. After all, it is through our employees that we are able to fulfill our missionto assist our clients in improving the quality of their lives.”

The Kent Center PRESS RELEASE: January 13, 2006
Briggs Kids Strike It Rich in the Mock Stock Market
(Warwick, RI)With a $27,000 profit in just 10 weeks, three students from The Kent Center’s Eleanor Briggs School took first place in the Providence Journal’s Stock Market Game. Greg Mouradjian, Walter Cahill and Wesley Smith are the stock-market whiz kids who earned bragging rights over 161 other teams from both public and private schools across Rhode Island.

Like all teams, the students started out with an imaginary $100,000 to purchase stocks of their choice. They then followed the stocks, both online and by reading the newspaper, and made trades as they saw fit. “They made some very good choices and for the right reasons which were based on research of the companies,” stated their teacher David Phelps, who introduced the game to his math class.

The team was rewarded with a pizza party, courtesy of the Providence Journal and given certificates by Journal representative Avis Gunther-Rosenberg. The Briggs School was also presented with a plaque. A second Briggs team also did very well with a 28th place finish.

Established in 1980, The Kent Center’s Eleanor Briggs School is a leader in the field of special education and mental health. In an environment that promotes learning and growth, students are able to achieve their full potential.