In the midst of an ever-changing healthcare landscape, one that involves new challenges that require us to make difficult decisions, we must keep in mind all that Bridges has accomplished in our fifty-seven years of serving our communities. Our commitment to provide the highest possible quality care for children, adults, young adults and families remains in the forefront. This has been a year of transformation, marked by necessary endings and new beginnings. Last May, we paid tribute to Barry Kasdan on his retirement after 29 years as Bridges’ CEO & President at our inaugural Visionary Leadership Dinner, held in his honor. Proceeds from that fundraiser were directed to our Endowment Fund to ensure the financial stability of Bridges in the years ahead. Barry’s dedication to Bridges and all those we served continues to inspire us to carry on our work, particularly in the face of significant financial challenges.
Ongoing awareness of the organization’s rich history and the developmental milestones of the past are vital, but equally so is our vision for the future and how this vision will guide us over the next five decades. Let us share some of that vision and our work to attain these goals. Integrating healthcare is one of our strategic goals. While we know that treating the mind as separate from the body is illogical and ineffective, regulators and funders have been a bit slower to support an integrated approach. Laws mandating equal coverage for mental illness, substance abuse and physical illness must be backed by adequate funding. We can and must do more to offer all members of our community easy access to seamless, whole health services. Bridges is working to expand its integrated healthcare model, and new partnerships, such as our onsite pharmacy and our recent designation by the State as a Behavioral Health Home are moving us forward as a whole health provider.
We know that we must continually measure the outcome of the services we provide to assure effectiveness, efficiency, and fiscal accountability. We are working hard to implement and enhance the systems and protocols that support better outcome measurement, while recognizing that every individual measures their recovery in their own way and our role is to help them meet their unique goals.
We have a duty and privilege to advocate for the rights and needs of individuals with behavioral health challenges and to raise awareness of mental health to reduce stigma. We are taking steps to carry our message to a broader audience of policy makers and the general population through the use of social networking platforms and other community outreach efforts, such as prevention education and training. Last year we trained over 100 individuals in Adult and Youth Mental Health First Aid, a nationally recognized, hands-on training for the general public that teaches how to help someone who is developing a mental illness or is in crisis.
Good governance keeps Bridges on course. We are grateful to the many community members who have served on our Board of Directors. We are continually looking for new members to our Board who can invest their emotional, intellectual and financial energies as advocates, ambassadors and fundraisers to ensure a strong future for the organization.
We greatly appreciate you, our community members and partners. Your donations, in-kind contributions and volunteer hours help us carry out our mission. Each act of kindness makes us stronger together.
Maintaining Bridges’ leadership role as a premier provider of choice for community-based services, enhancing our infrastructure to serve children, adults and families as a health home and increasing access to care have been, and will remain a critical focus. We must also commit to taking full advantage of the collective energy and expertise of our board, staff and consumers as we seek new and innovative opportunities to advance Bridges’ sustainability and growth. The time is now. And we are ready.