Filling the Crisis Gap

2023 Community Report

Our Mission

With uncommon expertise in mental health and addiction services, Oaklawn joins with individuals, families and our community on the journey toward health and wholeness.

Laurie Nafziger, Oaklawn

Better Crisis Care is Here

We’ve come a long way. How we treat, view and talk about mental health and substance use disorders has progressed rapidly – even in just the past few years. Stigma is shrinking, awareness is growing and our knowledge is expanding all the time. There’s never been a better moment in history to ask for help. Yet – there’s one crucial piece that’s been missing in our continuum of care: crisis services.

Communities across the country are working to address this gap – and it has become a local and national priority, with additional funding and resources to support a growing movement for better crisis care. Right here at home, Oaklawn is leading the way in these ground-breaking initiatives – through an enhanced 24/7 crisis phone line, crisis response teams operating in St. Joseph and Elkhart counties and crisis stabilization centers set to open in both counties in the coming months. Additionally, our Open Access clinics provide daily walk-in hours, where those seeking treatment can meet with a therapist same-day. These services are transforming how people in our community get help – when they need it, where they need it.

Thank you for being a part of this important work. We’ve been so grateful for the broad community support these efforts have received, as well as the unprecedented collaboration between our local partners in government, emergency services and other agencies. Together, we’re changing – and saving – lives.

Laurie N. Nafziger, President & CEO

For mental health or
substance use crises

Call 988

Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

574-533-1234

Oaklawn 24/7 line

Completing the behavioral health crisis continuum of care

Oaklawn-Crisis-Continuum-of-Care-Mobile

If you’ve ever experienced an emergency, you were no doubt grateful for those who helped in your moment of need – police, paramedics, firefighters or emergency room staff. Getting the help you need when you need it really can be the difference between life and death.

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This year, our communities will have new resources for people experiencing mental health and substance use crises – filling a gap in services and providing an unparalleled level of care.

“There are three pillars to a full crisis continuum of care,” explained Kelli Liechty, Oaklawn’s Vice President of Access and Crisis Services. “That’s someone to call, someone to respond and somewhere to go.”

Over the past year, Oaklawn has made significant headway in each of these areas. 

  1. Someone to call – That’s 988, the new national crisis line, or, Oaklawn’s 24/7 number, 574-533-1234.
  2. Someone to respond – Oaklawn now operates mobile crisis response teams in both St. Joseph and Elkhart counties. At the end of September, the St. Joseph County team expanded its hours and now operates 8 a.m.-8 p.m. seven days a week. In October, we launched a new team serving Elkhart County, which operates 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Both teams have plans to expand to 24/7 as staffing increases.
  3. Somewhere to go – Walk-in crisis centers planned for both counties are set to open in the coming months. The center serving St. Joseph County will be housed on the first floor of the Memorial Epworth building at 420 N. Niles Ave. in South Bend and is expected to open this winter. The center for Elkhart County will be housed at Oaklawn’s Goshen campus at 330 Lakeview Drive and is expected to open in mid-2024.

With phone lines and crisis teams operational in both counties, the crisis centers will complete the full continuum of care for people in need in our communities.

Maria Gallegos, Oaklawn story

A day with the mobile crisis response team

Maria Gallegos is a case manager with Oaklawn’s St. Joseph County mobile crisis response team. Oaklawn now has a team of 15 people serving on crisis response teams in both counties, with plans to grow to operate 24/7.

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It’s 9 a.m., and Maria Gallegos is starting her shift with Oaklawn’s mobile crisis response team. She’s worked here over a year as a case manager, along with therapists and peer support professionals, who are themselves in recovery from mental health and substance use disorders. Together, they bring unique perspectives and expertise – matching the needs of each caller.

At 9:30, Maria is dispatched to a call from the South Bend Police Department. It’s for a client the team is familiar with – and unfortunately, there’s no easy option for treatment. The call ends with him being transported by police to the ER, but the team will regroup later that afternoon to discuss his case. They want to make sure he doesn’t fall through the cracks.

Maria takes another call at 10:30. It’s a client who’s been more symptomatic after a decrease in medication. She spends a half hour on the phone, offering support and de-escalating her. That’s often all a caller needs.

At 12:30, she’s called to the lobby for a client who walked in – she was assaulted and needs a ride to the hospital. On the drive, Maria learns she was recently evicted, so she’ll connect with the client’s regular Oaklawn case manager to follow up on housing.

When Maria returns to the office, she’s greeted at the door by the client who called that morning and will spend the last half hour of her shift with her.

“This job really made me realize how important human connection is,” Maria said. “A lot of these people don’t have much support in their life. If we just support each other a little bit, that really goes go a long way. You never know what people are going through every day.”

Oaklawn - Mike Bozsanyi family story

A call to Oaklawn’s 24/7 line helped one family reunite

Two years ago, Mike Bozsanyi was addicted to heroin living in a broken-down car on his sister’s property. His daughters were in foster care and his wife Robin (then-girlfriend) was incarcerated but determined to get her daughters back. She encouraged Mike to get sober so that they could be a family again.

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Robin was already in treatment at Oaklawn, and she gave Mike the number for Oaklawn’s 24/7 mobile opioid response team. At first, he made excuses.

“Then one cold morning, when I was freezing in the car, I just figured, ‘What do I got to lose?’ If I give it a shot and it doesn’t work, I could honestly tell my kids that I tried,” he said.

He made the call.

He connected with one of Oaklawn’s peer support professionals who helped him get emergency insurance and admitted to an inpatient treatment center. From there, Mike moved into a sober living community for men – the same day Robin moved to a sober living house for women just up the street. They stayed committed to their recovery. They got an apartment. They got married. And, last year, just before Christmas, they got the best present they could ask for – they got their daughters back and their case was officially closed by DCS.

“It was a really good Christmas last year to have everyone back together,” Mike said.

Recently, Mike finished classes to receive an honors diploma and started a new job – an electrical apprenticeship where he’ll also take classes at Ivy Tech. Robin’s working, too, and just bought a new car. He’s proud of how far they’ve come in two years – but he knows a lot of people helped them along the way, and he’s grateful for their support.

“I’m doing the best I’ve ever done in my life,” Mike said, “Things are just really good.”

Make a difference in the future of mental health in Elkhart and St. Joseph Counties.

Meeting clients when and where they need it

25,000 clients served each year

Mobile crisis response team

1,100+

answered crisis calls last year

300

calls escalated to a
higher level of care or dispatched to in the community

Crisis stabilization centers

3,600

Estimate number of clients served each year

25

staff members

14-16

recliners (centers will use a “living room” model with recliners instead of beds)

Open Access

4,986

Intake assessments completed in the year before Open Access

7,736

Intake assessments completed in the year after Open Access

55%

Increase in
assessments since the start of Open Access

Why your gift matters

$12

gives one adult client HIP premium coverage for a year

$35

covers a month’s prescription for buprenorphine, to treat opioid use disorder

$50

pays for an hour of
skills training and
care facilitation

$220

pays for an initial
assessment with a
master’s level therapist