Wauwatosa, Wis. - Aurora Psychiatric Hospital has undergone many changes in the past 125 years, but one thing has remained consistent: the quality of care provided on the campus in Wauwatosa.
Tony Meyer, M.D., medical director of Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, first came to the campus as a medical student in 1962. The hospital was then known as the Milwaukee Sanitarium.
“There always was a kind and humanistic approach to patient care,” Meyer said. “That approach to care continues today.”
Over the years, Meyer has seen the development of many kinds of cutting edge therapies including great strides in pharmacology that help patients cope with mental illness and addiction.
“Originally, there were very few medications for treating patients and hospitalizations often lasted many weeks,” he said. “Today, we offer a continuum of care that includes inpatient, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, which benefits our patients because we tailor the program to their specific needs. The diverse times and offerings allow patients to get the treatment they need and to maintain their work and home lives as well.”
Pete Carlson, vice president of behavioral health services for Aurora said, “The strength of our programs is in the quality of our psychiatrists, therapists, nursing staff and other treatment professionals. We have a great mix of older experienced psychiatrists and younger providers.”
Aurora Psychiatric specialty programs
In the past five years, Aurora Psychiatric Hospital has added a number of specialty programs, including child adolescent day treatment, eating disorders, opiate recovery, a mental health intensive outpatient program and adult residential treatment for addictions.
“We’ve expanded programming as we’ve learned more about how to treat specific disorders,” Meyer said. “We’ve added these programs gradually over the last five years to keep our treatment state of the art. We keep pushing the envelope looking for ways to help patients as well as their families in the most effective way possible. By involving the family and getting their support, it helps patients feel less anxious and depressed, and it makes quite a difference in treatment.”
Aurora Psychiatric Hospital is widely recognized for its addiction treatment program at the Dewey Center on campus. “It used to be that substance abuse was treated by an addictionologist, but it became clear that many of the patients treated for substance abuse had other mental health issues. As a result, we now have five physicians who are trained in both addictionology and psychiatry,” Meyer said.
The newest program for addictions is the opiate recovery program. “During the past several years, there has been an alarming rise in the abuse of prescription opiates such as oxycontin, percocet or vicodin,” said Lance Longo, M.D., medical director of the Dewey Center. “But through the development of new medications such as suboxone, as well as new approaches in therapy, recovery from opiate dependency is more effective than ever.”
The hospital provides separate substance abuse treatment programs for children and adolescents.
Another unique program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital is Kradwell School, established in 1963. Originally an inpatient school program for adolescents who were hospitalized, it today offers half-day programs to students in grades 5 through 12 who have behavioral health issues. It serves students from school districts throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Days of Change
Meyer said one of the most positive changes at the psychiatric hospital came in 1993, when it joined Aurora Health Care. “Aurora’s emphasis on supporting quality of life issues for patients aligns with my personal view for patients,” he said. “It helps us to continue to offer good psychiatric care, as well as access to top quality medical care, because Aurora is an integrated health system and offers all the pieces of health care.”
Carlson said that the move was good for the hospital as well as the community and those with mental health issues. “Aurora Health Care believes in its commitment to behavioral health,” he said.
In June, the Grand Avenue Club named Aurora Behavioral Health Services its corporate honoree for 2009. "We are eager to acknowledge your impressive efforts to provide effective behavioral health care for more patients in Milwaukee County than any other health entity," the announcement from club leadership said.
Steve Simon, executive director of the Milwaukee office of Mental Health America, also said the hospital has been a valuable community partner during its long tenure. "Aurora Psychiatric Hospital and Aurora Behavioral Health Services are among the most committed and resolute behavioral health providers in the community,” he said. “While we have seen many organizations phase out their behavioral health services over the past several years, Aurora has remained steadfast in its commitment to providing care to our most vulnerable citizens. It is an organization that is truly committed to helping people live better lives."
Aurora Psychiatric Hospital will officially mark its 125 years of service to the community Saturday, Oct. 17, with a fund-raiser at the Pfister Hotel. For more information, please call 414-454-6473.
About Aurora Health Care
Aurora Health Care is a not-for-profit Wisconsin health care provider and a national leader in efforts to improve the quality of health care. Aurora offers care at sites in more than 90 communities throughout eastern Wisconsin.
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