Scroll down to see blogs from:
- Sandra Stewart, Community Liaison
- Robin McGeough, Director of Chemical Dependency Services
- Carol Ivy, Community Liaison
Community Liaison Corner
Hi, I’m Sandra Stewart, one of the Community Liaisons for Aurora Charter Oak Hospital and the Charter Oak Recovery Center, located in Covina, California. I've been working at Aurora Charter Oak since 2013, and I would love to get some feedback on my posts to this periodic blog. You can reach me at 626-975-5902 or Sandra.firstname.lastname@example.org
SPRING 2017 BLOG
Hello and Happy Spring!
For this posting I’d like to give kudos to some amazing ladies. I’ve founded and continue to run some small professional women's networking groups throughout Los Angeles County -- we call these groups Coffee Clubs. The participants include Mental Health and Chemical Dependency Treatment professionals who come together to network and do some outreach work in their local communities. We now have about 10 of these Coffee Clubs running and each one is amazing in its own right.
Let me shine the spotlight on our "Downtown L.A. Coffee Club." This group includes Dr. Janet Woznica, Dr. Miranda Boe, Dr. Katie Enney, Dr. Stephanie Baron, and Dr. Jeanne Young. We have been meeting for the past eight months or so. The participants decided they wanted to do something to benefit the community and came up with the idea of helping the homeless in the Skid Row area of Downtown Los Angeles.
After researching several options, they set up a schedule at one of the Skid Row Homeless Shelters to provide counseling to homeless clients at no cost, every other weekday. The Coffee Club participants report that this has been very fulfilling for each of them, and the shelter clients have been very appreciative and grateful for not only the help, but the time spent. For many of these clients, the feeling of being forgotten by society is what seems to hurt the most.
I work in the behavioral health field to give back, to help others. The women in the L.A. Coffee Club are giving their time and abilities selflessly, helping those who are struggling to help themselves. I am humbled by their efforts and accomplishments, and very honored to have brought this group of incredible individuals together!
Till next time!
January 2, 2017
Happy New Year to everyone!
I can’t believe we are actually in 2017! What an amazing time this is. So many innovations that make life easier, but unfortunately mental illness and addiction remain a problem for many individuals. That’s why what we do here at Aurora Charter Oak is so very important. Two of the many services we provide are our Outpatient Program and Residential Treatment Center (RTC). Both services provide understanding, education, direction and a safe haven for those who need help in dealing with their problems.
You may not know that our Outpatient Program has separate therapy and education groups focusing on mental health and substance abuse, and we offer free transportation. Did you know that we provide both breakfast and lunch? Pictured right: Genie (Outpatient Program Director), Sheila (COO), Desiree (Therapist), Krystal (Behavioral Health Specialist), John (Director of Social Services)
You may not know that in our RTC, our Chemical Dependency Program Director, Robin McGeough, runs many of the groups and takes a personal interest in each and every client admitted to the program. Did you know that our RTC is limited to 12 individuals at a time, and features all-private rooms and private gym memberships? Pictured left: Robin and Christina (RTC Staff)
If you haven’t had a chance to visit us and learn more about the services we offer, please feel free to contact me at 626-975-5902 and arrange a tour. Keep checking in with me right here, as I will be adding some video clips of the people that help make Aurora Charter Oak Hospital and RTC such special treatment programs!
Until next time!
September 14, 2016
I’m going to tell you about the joy of my position. Recently I was invited to a dinner given by two of our referral sources at the Pasadena Hilton Hotel. The dinner was an evening to remember, held in the Sapphire Room and catered by the top East Indian restaurant in Los Angeles. There had to be at least 200 healthcare professionals in attendance. There was a full band, a troop of “Bollywood” dancers, an eight course meal served on gleaming brass platters, and every type of beverage imaginable.
I would never have been at this amazing event had I not been working at Aurora Charter Oak Hospital, which gave me the opportunity to connect with these two physicians. I gave out all of my marketing materials and met more people than I can name, all of whom were kind enough to ask me to meet with them on an individual basis.
Not only will I remember this night for the rest of my life, but I have made some very strong contacts within this community. I can’t imagine having a better job, with better people. If you are interested in working in an industry that gives you the satisfaction of being a resource of hope and help, and brings joy and assistance to others, working in Behavioral Health is the way to go.
Until next time, I remain a very happy Community Liaison for Aurora Charter Oak Hospital and Recovery Center!
October 29, 2015
I wanted to talk a bit about a recent event that took place here at Aurora Charter Oak Hospital. On Wednesday, October 21, we were visited by Rob and Rita Lancefield. Rita’s mother, Mary Gould, was the founder of Charter Oak Hospital, originally named Charter Oak Lodge. Rita worked at Charter Oak Lodge while she was in high school and college. She met her husband, Rob, at the facility while he worked as a gardener. We had a very enjoyable lunch with Rob and Rita, and learned how Mary Gould founded the facility in 1941, in order help women with behavioral health issues. Later the facility shifted its focus to treating adolescent females. Mary was a social worker and her father was an attorney and judge for “Court 95” , the Los Angeles County Mental Health Court. The Charter Oak campus was originally mainly orange groves and the first treatment facility housed 8 individuals at a time, most coming from the court system. Mary’s father had given her the land, after he received it from a client in payment for legal services. Her father was also the major contributor in funding Charter Oak Lodge. The nearby community was not happy about having a “mental hospital” in the area. Rita shared old newspaper articles with us that noted local residents protested expansion of Charter Oak Lodge in 1947.
Rita shared that her mother was very dedicated to the facility and worked up until the day before she passed away, in 1976, at age 67. After probate, the family ended up selling the facility to Charter Medical Corporation in 1981. The family used the money from that sale to fund the Charter Oak Foundation, a non-profit organization which continues to help families to this day.
After our lunch, I took the Lancefields on a tour. They were delighted at the expansion of the hospital and how Aurora Charter Oak has continued caring for individuals with behavioral health problems. They were truly happy at how lovely the grounds appear, and thanked us for carrying on Mary’s vision. Next year, 2016, marks the 75th Anniversary of Charter Oak. It is a wonderful feeling to know that we have continued the tradition of service established by Mary Gould! If you are interested in taking a tour of our facility, please contact me at Sandra.email@example.com
October 13, 2015
Hello again! For this blog entry I would like to discuss the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment (WAAT) organization and how it ties into my position at Aurora Charter Oak Hospital (ACOH). WAAT is a national organization made up professional woman in addiction treatment. I am the founder and Co-Chair for the San Gabriel Valley Chapter. WAAT provides the opportunity for professional women in the addiction treatment field to get together once a month to network and be educated by guest speakers.
WAAT has afforded me the opportunity to meet referral sources I never have met, and become educated about their services. We’ve had some amazing speakers recently, including the COO of ACOH, Sheila Cordova, who spoke on Training Nurses in Recovery. We reach out to the community and try to educate others by networking our membership’s individual specialties. WAAT also offers a forum to learn what’s new in the addiction treatment arena.
Recently, we were given approval from the national WAAT leadership to hold our local chapter meeting here at ACOH once a quarter. This is wonderful for our hospital and RTC, as we can invite all of our staff to join the meeting. And we can invite WAAT members to tour our facility and campus, giving them a more personal feel for the services we provide.
I’m very excited to announce that January 21st, 2016 will be our first WAAT meeting at ACOH! If you would like to attend, please RSVP to me in person, or via our Facebook Page (San Gabriel Valley WAAT association), or email me at Sandra.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, the WAAT National Conference is Friday, October 23rd, 2015 from 8:30a.m. to 3:30p.m at the Olympic Collection Conference Center in Los Angeles. I invite you to join us. The fee is $95 for members and $125 for non-members, which included lunch. Our featured speaker will be Dr. Carolyn Coker-Ross, a board certified Addiction Medicine specialist, who will be discussing Integrative Therapies for Eating and Substance Disorders. If you’d like more information, please feel free to contact me at 626-975-5902.
July 2, 2015
I wanted to take a minute to applaud one of our recent speakers: Karen Allan, LMFT, who has an amazing resume, including graduation from Oxford University. We hold a Breakfast Lecture Series here at Aurora Charter Oak almost every month, featuring guest speakers and Continuing Education Units for healthcare professionals. In May, Karen spoke on Bipolar II Disorder to a packed house. Not only is she dedicated to assisting those who suffer from this diagnosis, but it is her passion to speak and shed light on the subject.
Karen gave a stellar presentation and she brought four of her clients who have suffered from this affliction to share their experiences. The impact on the audience was amazing. Everyone had questions and participated. She actually ran out of promotional materials, and was asked to speak at other venues. It was a wonderful morning for all who heard her and her clients.
Karen was gracious, eloquent and charming, all of this while walking through a grave personal situation. Her husband, Joshi, had been battling cancer for the last two years. A psychologist and a published author, Joshi had a lust for life unparalleled by most. A true shining star in Karen’s life, and the love of her life. They walked through a roller coaster in faith and with the support and love of friends and family. Joshi had fought through to remission after remission, each time knowing he had won the battle, always with Karen by his side. Karen tending to his care plus running Crossroads, her successful family therapy practice, all with the same grace and attention she gave to everything she does.
Last month, Joshi passed away. Karen stands strong and lives for them both now, and says she feels Joshi beside her at all times, helping her. I’ve met many people in my professional and personal life, and Karen Allan remains special to me and all those she’s touched. We keep her in our thoughts.
Till next time. Thank you for following my blog.
To reach Robin McGeough, Director of Chemical Dependency Services, please call 626-966-1632 ext. 2015.
October 24, 2016
Run4 Recovery 2016 (San Francisco to Covina) was our biggest year yet! On the first day/first leg of the ride (San Francisco to Tracy), I was delighted and surprised that a very close friend, Marie, who struggled in the darkness of addiction with me for many years, joined me in San Francisco’s Golden Gate park to wish me well. We briefly regaled each other with tales of near death experiences and how our lives had changes as a result of our recovery and the miracle that we survived, thanks to so many who believed and fought for us.
The following few days (Yosemite to Palmdale) I was supported by close friends and family who provided much more than emotional and physical support. The cheers and passion and unfailing belief in me became my motivation each day, despite great physical pain and challenging terrain which included Tioga Pass - Yosemite’s highest peak at an elevation of 9995 feet!
On the final day I was joined by two colleagues from Aurora Charter Oak: Abraham (housekeeping department) and Cary (case management department), who rode with me most of the 68 miles of the last leg (Palmdale to Covina). It should be mentioned that these two individuals had little training and rode their bicycles over the Angeles Crest Mountains, a physical challenge of 40 miles of varying elevations…NOT AN EASY TASK and challenging even for experienced riders.
Aurora Charter Oak’s Chemical Dependency Services “Pit Crew” Christina, Kelly and Rachel followed us in a vehicle and assisted with water, nutrition and passionate cheering. Making it to the finish line would not have been possible without their support.
As the final stretch of Run4Recovery 2016 came into view, we saw the open gates and red ribbon finish line at Charter Oak Hospital as staff members from all departments applauded our homecoming. I fell from my elliptical bike and kissed the ground, physically broken, but heart soaring with gratitude as I hugged most everyone in attendance. In my 53 years of life rarely have I felt so much love and support.
What began nine years ago… one man’s vision... has culminated into a tradition of caring and an entire hospital’s support. In many ways this journey and everyone’s presence echoed my recovery journey these past 25 years… sobriety, a dream made only possible with the support of a fellowship who believed in the impossible.
Thank you Aurora Charter Oak Hospital for bringing the dream to reality and making the impossible journey possible with love.
September 2, 2016
We are mothers, grandmothers, fathers, grandfathers, sons and daughters. We are counselors, sponsors, therapists and healthcare workers. We are construction workers, welders, web designers and artists. We are recovering addicts and alcoholics bound together by a shared bond of freedom from suffering.
The countdown has begun for Run4Recovery 2016, our 9th annual charity ride. The ride is beginning in just a few short weeks, a ride taken by this loving and supportive group of surviving alcoholics and addicts on our continuing mission to bring hope to recovering individuals and their families.
This year’s ride starts in San Francisco, continues through Yosemite Valley down Hwy 395 into Bakersfield, over the Angeles Crest Mountains, and ends at Aurora Charter Oak Hospital in Covina, a journey of over 600 miles in 10 days. We ride to make a difference for the seemingly endless stream of suffering addicts and alcoholic men and women and their families caught in the crossfire during their continued struggle to attain sobriety.
Together with our partner, the Puente House Foundation, Run4Recovery provides funds for scholarships which provide basic services (housing and food) to those recovering men and women most vulnerable to relapse.
As founder of Run4Recovery, I would like to say THANK YOU. Thank you for your love and support, year after year. Thank you for the cards, letters, and email messages that bring us to tears. Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes that lift our spirits. And most of all, thank you for your financial contributions.
March 25, 2015
I prepared the following remarks for our 8 year anniversary celebration of the opening of the Charter Oak Recovery Center, which we held on March 21, 2015.
"Eight-and-a-half years ago I was working as the program director for a large chemical dependency residential facility in Laguna Beach, CA. I received a call from Staci Skelly, who was the Business Development Director for Aurora Charter Oak Hospital. Staci suggested that I interview for a new program director position at Charter Oak.
At that time, my professional life seemed little more than a recovery assembly line. This new opportunity gave me a second chance to rediscover my passion and humanness for working in the recovery field. In doing so, I have found myself again.
My position at Charter Oak is so much more than a title or a place to work. It is about building a team of professionals and a treatment program truly dedicated to human service. Moreover, it is about providing support to the individual who is experiencing or tolerating their pain for the first time, clean and sober. It is about holding those who desperately need to be held or building the strong confident man or woman that exists in all of us.
I am truly honored to share this experience with you today. To have been a part of your lives in such a meaningful way has been a gift. I have found and healed myself though the work here at this facility. I have found that for the addict, the drug is not just a drug. It becomes life itself. The pathological relationship with the drug becomes the only way to truly comfort and tolerate the self that seems intolerable without the drug. Recovery is finding that something that is as meaningful as the drug; finding that daily emotional intervention that is as loud as the drug. I have watched so many of you move so gracefully into that very solution. The deep emotional connection you have found here has been inspiring to watch, and so many times I have healed myself. This truly meaningful work is transferred from our alumni to our new residents, a perfect symbiotic relationship of love and healing."
March 12, 2015
As I ponder over the last eight years, I am reminded of countless recovery successes, numerous graduation ceremonies, and the many children, spouses, mothers and fathers who have been reunited with their loved ones. One story in particular reminds me that gratitude comes in many forms.
About a year or so ago, shortly after our 7 year anniversary, I received a call from the mother of a former client who advised me that her 26-year-old son had died of drug related causes. However, she wanted to call and to thank me and the entire staff at Charter Oak Recovery Center, because the time she and the client's father had spent with him here, engaging in many activities and counseling sessions, was the "best time we had with him in so many years." She wanted us to know that she was grateful for the memories of that time.
On the eve of our 8 year anniversary celebration, I reflect on the many individuals and their families that have come through our doors. Initially, clients arrive at our residential treatment center feeling broken, confused and desperate for help. The transformation from hopelessness to hope in many is profound. For many individuals, insecurity, fear and anxiety are replaced by self-confidence, insight and a renewed sense of hope for the future.
I am grateful to work with a team of professionals who have dedicated their lives to helping end the suffering of individuals who struggle in getting and staying clean and sober, and their families. It is our great honor to be there and to help create a lasting foundation.
Thank you sincerely for your support and our success!
September 9, 2016
Please Help! My child is struggling with depression and addiction and did not come home last night!
This distressed call from a mother is just an example of one of the many calls we may receive on any given day in our Intake Department at Aurora Charter Oak Behavioral Health Care Hospital (ACOH). Recently, as a Community Liaison Representative for the hospital, I received such a call from the family member of an individual struggling with both mental health and substance abuse concerns. By making that important but frightening call to me, this family took the first step toward getting help for their loved one, who is now receiving compassionate, quality care and treatment at ACOH.
What do we do? The steps below outline how we help you or your loved one if you are seeking care during a mental health and/or substance abuse crisis.
- When a family or an individual is in crisis, the first step is to connect them to our Intake Department for a free confidential assessment. Our Intake Department is open ALL OF THE TIME, including week-ends and holidays. In other words, when in crisis, call us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There will be a qualified mental health/substance abuse professional to walk you or your loved one through the next steps. CALL: (800) 654-2673 to speak with a professional staff member, who will listen to and assess your immediate needs.
- Once the telephone assessment is completed, our staff member will inform you as to the next steps. You may be asked to come directly to the hospital for a more thorough free evaluation. We offer inpatient services for anyone found to be in need of crisis stabilization. Our inpatient treatment services are available to anyone struggling with mental health concerns, chemical dependency, or a co-occurring disorder. We offer services to adolescents (ages 13+) and adults (ages 18+).
- If you are asked to come to the Hospital, come directly to Aurora Charter Oak Hospital, 1161 E. Covina Blvd., Covina, CA. We are conveniently located close to the 210 Freeway and the 10 Freeway.
- It may be that you or your family member would best be helped by our Residential Treatment Center, or by our Outpatient Services Department, or by referrals to other services in the community. Whatever the case, you will receive a free assessment at the hospital to determine which program will best meet your needs.
We have helped thousands of people in crisis over the past 75 years. It is our goal to provide compassionate, quality care. I hope this brief outline has helped you to understand our process and to help you MAKE THE ONE CALL THAT MIGHT SAVE YOU OR YOUR LOVED ONE’S LIFE!
May 16, 2016
My name is Carol Ivy and I am a new Community Liaison at Aurora Charter Oak Behavioral Health Care. I have worked at many places during my healthcare career over the past 40 years. I have been a mental health/substance abuse intake coordinator, a pharmaceutical sales representative and an elder care specialist. Recently I joined Aurora Charter Oak Hospital and I have found it to be an amazing place, where not only patients, but the families of patients, and employees are treated with respect, caring and compassion. I am thrilled to be part of the Charter Oak team.
As an African American woman, growing older and becoming increasingly concerned about the future of our world, how I contribute to the world has become more and more important to me. Charter Oak has offered me a unique and quite inspiring place to be of service. The issues of mental health and substance abuse affect us all – our families and our communities. I look forward to spreading the word about how Aurora Charter Oak Hospital provides help and hope to those in need.
Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or 626-488-4622 if you have any questions about our services or are looking for behavioral health education or other resources.