A Publication of WTVP

Celebrating two anniversaries in behavioral health…

On April 15, 1949, President Harry Truman established the National Institute of Mental Health to conduct research into the brain and behavioral sciences, thereby reducing mental illness. Not long after he helped bring mental illness to the forefront of the American consciousness, Methodist Hospital, as it was then known, would distinguish itself as a leader in behavioral health services in central Illinois. This year, Methodist celebrates 60 years as a provider of behavioral health services.

Commitment to Behavioral Health
In 1954, Methodist became the first general hospital in downstate Illinois with a department specifically designed to treat behavioral health cases. For the first time, the Peoria Journal Star enthused, “persons suffering from ailments of the mind may now receive treatment here under the same conditions as patients with physical ills and with none of the traditional ‘stigma’ attached to mental institutions.” The result, it said, put Methodist in the “vanguard of what may become a nationwide movement.”

“I am proud of our strong commitment to behavioral health,” says Dean Steiner, executive director for behavioral health at UnityPoint Health – Methodist | Proctor. “When other area programs were downsizing or closing, we were growing and having conversations about how we could best serve our community and what else needed to be done.”

From inpatient psychiatric services for all ages to comprehensive outpatient programs, from a specialized area for behavioral health treatment to a psychiatric residency program in cooperation with UICOMP, this commitment is stronger than ever. Today, UnityPoint Health – Methodist | Proctor offers the most comprehensive behavioral health services in the region. “The affiliation of Methodist and Proctor provides us an opportunity to tap into the tremendous strengths of both behavioral health and addiction programs,” says Steiner. “These no longer need be separate issues.”

A Leader in Addiction Treatment
Thirty-five years ago, a 33-bed unit for addiction treatment opened on the Proctor campus. Since then, the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery (IIAR) has created the nation’s most comprehensive gambling addiction treatment program, established consulting services, published its own magazine for professionals, created food and sex addiction treatment programs, and pioneered the nation’s first chronic pain with addiction treatment program and comprehensive Internet addiction treatment program. It provides treatment services in Peoria, Chicago, Springfield and Bloomington-Normal.

“Since opening in 1979, we’ve grown and matured into a leader in the addiction field,” says Phil Scherer, administrative director. “In 1989, we opened the area’s first inpatient adolescent treatment center to address the growing alcohol and drug problem among our young people.” In addition, thousands of students statewide have participated in IIAR’s much sought-after program for adolescents, Don’t Gamble Away Our Future. “To date, we have presented this program to over 30,000 students throughout Illinois,” Scherer adds.

“The Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery has a reputation that exceeds well beyond the boundaries of Illinois,” says Medical Director Kirk Moberg, MD, PhD. “IIAR has maintained itself on the cutting edge of innovations in the field of addiction medicine and continues to increase the breadth of its services in the treatment of both chemical and process addictions.”

Addressing the Senior Population
The Center for Senior Behavioral Health on the UnityPoint Health – Proctor campus opened in 2012. The 18-bed center provides treatment for an array of psychiatric issues for adults age 65 and older, offering solutions that address the physical and emotional needs of the older population. It is the first center of its kind in central Illinois.

“The senior population is growing, and we intend to grow right along with it,” says Steiner. “We have a lot to be proud of, but there’s more to do. We are always looking forward, always asking ourselves what else we can do to better serve patients needing behavioral health services.” iBi