Employee Awards and Accolades

Education, community outreach key initiatives for Stairways

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

From television commercials to professional development offerings, Stairways Behavioral Health upholds a long tradition of community mental health and wellness education. Two recent examples include a lunch and learn event for staff from two referral sources, and providing panelists for the Oct. 13 Community Care Recovery Conference.

Lunch, Learn and BLOOM

Ten Stairways program directors hosted a Lunch and Learn at BLOOM Collaborative for staff from Saint Vincent Hospital’s inpatient behavioral health program and Safe Harbor Behavioral Health’s Crisis Residential Unit (CRU).

Guests learned about the services and programs offered at Stairways, met with clinical staff from Stairways and toured BLOOM Collaborative’s five-acre wellness campus, getting a taste for its brand of healing arts. Program directors provided overviews of blended case management, mobile medication management, psychiatric rehabilitation and peer support services, as well as Stairways' new Long-term Structured Residence Program.

This meeting of the minds was the brainchild of Stairways Blended Case Manager Laurie Bizzarro, who, as part of her targeted outreach at Saint Vincent, Safe Harbor’s CRU and Millcreek Community Hospital, introduces patients to the programs available upon discharge. This outreach helps individuals to better understand and consider their support options, and aids their conversation with the hospital social workers responsible for external patient referrals.

“The meeting at BLOOM was an opportunity to invite other mental health workers who partner with Stairways services onto BLOOM's beautiful campus, and to continue to work on strong professional bonds with our community providers,” Bizzarro said.

Peers Promoting Wellness

Stairways Certified Peer Specialist, Theresa Abbey, and program director, Marilyn Goss, joined three other community mental health professionals in a panel discussion regarding Recovery and Wellness Strategies in the Community at the Bayfront Convention Center.

As part of the Oct.13 Community Care Recovery Conference: Promoting Wellness to Improve Our Health, these Stairways mental health professionals provided their experience and expertise in focused discussion about the relationship between behavioral health challenges and physical health, how recovery strategies can be used to help with physical health challenges, and the role of behavioral health with physical health.

Goss said that Stairways staff served as an excellent example of the recovery process.

“One of the themes stressed throughout the day was the need for providers to act as role models for recovery to the people receiving services,” she said. “It was exciting to be able to share Stairways' recovery initiatives and to discuss how we are empowering our staff to do just that.”

It was clear from the conference that peer specialists continue to play an important role in the recovery movement, added Stairways Director of Treatment Services Becky Clark, LCSW, CPRP.

“The morning sessions focused on the myriad wellness domains one can struggle with - for all of us, but particularly folks served by Stairways services,” she said. “Since Stairways was invited to participate in this regional conference, it's clear that the system that funds the majority of our services, both Community Care Behavioral Health and the Erie County Department of Human Services, continues to support meaningful peer services in helping to promote overall wellness, which will help Stairways continue to pursue our mission." 

Stairways Building Rededicated to McCarthy in Tribute

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Call it the house that Bill built.

Stairways Behavioral Health added a familiar name to the façade of the agency’s administrative building when it re-dedicated the headquarters, 2185 W. 8th St., as the William F. McCarthy Center during a tribute ceremony May 29.

Before a crowd of about 100 staff members, government officials, community leaders as well as family and friends of McCarthy, well-wishers commemorated the career of the former president and CEO with tribute remarks and the unveiling of a new building sign bearing McCarthy’s name.

The honor did not come without gratefulness and humility from McCarthy, who thanked his colleagues and family.

“When I look at this (building), I look at it with tremendous gratitude but I also look at this with a sense of history that this building will not always be used in the same way,” McCarthy said. “It’s not about the letters, the choice of the font or the metals. It’s all about the intent of people to say at least for today, 'we recognize that you have helped us along the way' and so for that, I accept this.”

McCarthy served as president and CEO from 1998 until his retirement in December. In all, his career at Stairways spanned 42 years.

In addition to the building’s rededication, McCarthy was recognized for his service to the community and advocacy with citations of achievement from the City of Erie, Erie County and the State of Pennsylvania.

In presenting the citation from Erie County, County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper acknowledged McCarthy’s service for countless individuals.

“I think this is a wonderful tribute to a person who has given to our county in so many ways,” Dahlkemper said. “Thank you for being an advocate for all those you serve in Stairways and throughout the county.”

Dr. Kristine Nelson, president, Stairways board of directors, emceed the event, which featured several speakers.

Dr. Meghan McCarthy, Stairways physician and Bill McCarthy’s daughter, spoke on behalf of the McCarthy family along with her nephew William F. McCarthy V.

“You have demonstrated by your undying investment in people, in families and in relationships what matters most in this field,” she said.

McCarthy’s personal touch and sense of friendship was also the theme of former co-worker Gary Boetger’s speech. Stairways Vice President of Clinical Services Jill Corey delivered the remarks on behalf of Boetger, who was unable to attend.

“I read somewhere that you can always tell that two people are best friends because they are having more fun than it makes sense for them to be having,” Boetger wrote. “That is certainly true of Bill and me.”

Under McCarthy’s leadership, Stairways expanded and adapted into the 21st century in the same vision of the organization’s founders, said Mike Gage, McCarthy’s longtime friend and son of Stairways co-founder Rachel Zacks Gage.

“The fact that someone who knew my mother would not only come to work at Stairways but lead it into the future amazes me,” Gage said. “I’m sure that my mother would be as proud of what he has done as I am. They truly shared a vision.”

In his address, former president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Association of Rehabilitation Facilities Gene Bianco noted that McCarthy “showed not just a great mind but a great heart.”

For more photos of the event, click here.

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