Residential Treatment

Residential Treatment:

Rogers is a comprehensive psychiatric hospital, nationally recognized for specialty residential treatment programs for eating disorders, addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders for children, teens and adults.

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February 20, 2017 - 8:38am

Teem Substance AbuseAlcohol and drugs are affecting our teens at younger ages and in more dangerous ways. School staff members are often the first ones to notice signs of possible substance use. Amy Kuechler, PsyD, attending psychologist for the adolescent dual diagnosis program at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Brown Deer, has answered some answers for parents, friends and those who work with students in schools:

What are the common signs?

It can be difficult to recognize signs of substance use in adolescents because it’s a time of major change. When a child begins using substances, you will likely notice major changes that last a week or longer. Be on the lookout for unusual moodiness; a drop in grades; and risky behaviors such as criminal activity, skipping class or drawing closer to a group children with risky behaviors. Significant changes at home can also trigger substance use.

How are students hiding substances?

Many schools are finding substances and related contraband in lockers. It’s becoming more common for students to store clear alcohol in water bottles so they can drink at school. Probably the most difficult substances to monitor are prescription pills. Students can easily hide their ADHD medications in their pockets or backpacks and sell them to classmates.

If you have suspicions, how should you start a conversation?

Whether you are a parent or a school staff member, you can approach the student and tell them about the changes you’ve noticed. Adolescents want to know that someone cares, so it’s important to let them know you’re concerned. Then approach the school counselor, who can follow up with parents. If a student does admit to using substances, encourage the family to request a free, confidential screening to begin the treatment process.

Why is early treatment important?

Ninety percent of adults who are abusing drugs and alcohol started using before the age of 18. When students put harmful chemicals into their vulnerable, developing brain, they’re altering their brain’s pathways in a harmful way. By treating substance use early on, we’re increasing the likelihood the child will enjoy an addiction-free adulthood.

How does treatment help?

Our adolescent dual diagnosis partial hospital program can treat substance use and underlying mental health concerns at the same time. A child with depression, for example, likely has a distorted, negative view of his or herself, their family and their life. We would help modify the child’s perspective and teach them how to look at things more realistically.

If a child is using drugs or alcohol to cope with anxiety, the program will offer them alternative coping mechanisms, and teach them how to re-frame their situation and ride out anxiety. Sometimes anxiety can be helpful to students. It motivates them to study for tests or practice before we have to present to an audience.

The Adolescent Recovery Program, a new residential treatment option for teens with mental health and substance use disorders, will soon open at Rogers Memorial Hospital–West Allis. To schedule a visit from Dr. Kuechler or other Rogers representatives to your school, contact outreach representative Bre Meyer at 262-646-1767 or email

February 16, 2017 - 7:59am

Twila's StoryAs a professional consultant for an insurance company, Twila often speaks publically and conducts training across Wisconsin. She has a profound talent for putting on a brave face in front of large groups of people. For over 20 years, she kept her bulimia a secret from everyone. She thought she was doing a good job of keeping her life together until October of 2015 when she could no longer hide it.

As part of her disorder, Twila repeatedly vomited any and all food she consumed. If vomiting was not an option, because she was in a public or social setting, she would just choose to not eat at all. Over the course of her disorder, Twila underwent over $30,000 worth of dental work to repair acid erosion.

A long history of using diet pills and laxatives, to keep her calorie intake low, damaged Twila’s large intestine as well. In 2010, due to that damage of the intestinal wall, Twila had to have a colectomy of the large intestine. Surgeons who knew Twila for many years as a strong, healthy person didn’t suspect an eating disorder and diagnosed her with mega colon, a condition that typically affects the elderly.

“I worked with the surgeons that reviewed my case,” she says. “I couldn’t tell them the truth. Instead, I allowed them to be dumbfounded as to how someone so young and healthy could have mega colon.”

Twila was truly engulfed in the mental aspect of the disorder and wholeheartedly believed she was overweight, even though she was dangerously thin. “It’s disturbing how easy it is to hide this disorder,” she says. “So many people think it’s an attention-seeking type of disorder and I’m proof that it isn’t. I didn’t want anyone to know, and I was successful in hiding it from everyone in my life.”

Unfortunately, intestinal surgery wasn’t enough to push Twila to seek treatment. “About a week after the surgery I was cleared to eat solids,” she says. “I thought I’d eaten too much one day—one serving of mashed potatoes—and I tried to make myself vomit. I remember the pain in my abdomen when the wrenching tore my stitches and staples. Even then, it didn’t occur to me that I really needed help.”

A few years later, Twila entered a dark period of depression. “I couldn’t stop crying or get out of bed,” she says. “It really shook me up because that’s not like me. I’m very active in my community, with my work, and in my children’s lives.” It was the push she needed to enroll in the eating disorder partial hospital program at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Appleton.

As a confident person, Twila went in to her first day of treatment with a strong will to succeed. “I remember completing the survey and telling myself, I’m not that bad,” she says. “I told the staff I was really busy at work and asked if I could complete the program in two and a half weeks, instead of the usual six to eight.”

Staff members smiled at Twila and responded compassionately. “They said, ‘It takes a different amount of time for everybody and time will tell us what you’re going to need,” she says. “But we’re going to do everything we can to get you better in the time frame your body and mind need.”

After Twila’s treatment team began peeling away the layers of her disorder, she began to see she wasn’t indestructible. “I thought I was doing a good job of using coping skills, like over-exercising, as a way to avoid purging,” she says. “But they were actually denial skills for hiding the disorder. Not only was I not dealing with it, I was making it worse.”

The dietitians and education were particularly helpful for helping Twila see her disorder in a new light. “I was in the medical field for 18 years, and I was almost embarrassed I didn’t know or didn’t want to know the physical and psychological effects this disorder has on a person,” she says. “So many people are lacking education on what food can do for your mind and body. And it doesn’t have to be a terrible relationship.”

According to Twila, the staff members’ diverse personalities made it easy for patients to relate to them. ”No matter the personality, background, depth of their disorder, the staff tried to match patients with staff members who connected with them,” she says. “They do everything they can to accommodate each person and really tune in to individual needs.”

At Rogers, Twila found so much comfort in others who truly knew what she was going through. “I would listen to others who had my disorder and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, they get it!’” she says. “They know what I am feeling! I spent 20 years alone and afraid of the feelings the disorder made me feel. At Rogers, I was no longer alone, no longer ashamed, and I was in a place that truly understood my pain.”

For Twila, some treatment days were more difficult than others. “One day I told my fiancé I didn’t think I could handle one more day of treatment,” she says. “And he said, “Of all days, this is the day you have to go—because if you’re not strong enough mentally you may fall off the course, by going they can guide you to stay on track.”

As she began nourishing her body again, Twila was surprised her deepest fears weren’t coming true. “It was really difficult for me to eat three meals a day,” she says. “I’d never done that in my adult life. But about four weeks into treatment, I realized my pants still fit and I wasn’t gaining weight. It was a profound moment for me.” Staff members taught Twila that her body was finally metabolizing correctly for the first time in a very long time.

Today, Twila has found liberation in finally being able to accept and love herself after eight total weeks of treatment. “I’ve never had such a healthy relationship with my significant other, my children and other family and friends,” she says. “I’ve never been this centered and happy with myself. I finally love myself for who I am and in turn I have found that I am able to accept love from others because of that!”

If you suspect someone is over exercising or has disordered eating habits, Twila urges you to have a conversation with them. “Even though it isn’t anyone’s fault that no one questioned me, I would give anything to have had someone ask me, ‘What’s going on?”” she says. “I lost of lot of years to anger and self-loathing. I missed out on so many enjoyable moments with my children, family, and friends because my eating disorder kept me from living my life.”

February 14, 2017 - 1:48pm

At just 11 years old, Sandi Lybert’s son began abusing substances to get high. He started by huffing aerosols, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using marijuana and prescription pills. By Tyler’s 17 birthday, he’d developed a full-blown heroin addiction. With 19 underage drinking tickets and three DUIs, his life was in a downward spiral.

After detoxing through Rogers Memorial Hospital, Tyler received residential treatment at Herrington Recovery Center in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. “Tyler’s counselor gave us courage and hope and helped us understand what addiction was so we could move forward,” says Sandi. Today, Tyler has been in recovery for almost eight years.

After her son’s recovery began, Sandi wanted to make addiction education available to families like hers. “We had two choices,” she says. “We could either be silent about our battle and alone, or we could take a stand and put a face to addiction.”

Sandi, her family and a small group of volunteers and public speakers now operate Your Choice-Live, a non-profit drug and alcohol awareness program for youth in Wisconsin and surrounding states. The group provides health classes and education to youth with substance possession or underage drinking tickets, as well as programming for parents, law enforcement, teachers and other adults.

Over the past year, the Your Choice youth speakers have educated over 30,000 students through youth presentations and health classes. “I don’t want any family to feel as lost and stuck and desperate as we felt,” she says. “That’s why we do what we do and help as many families as we can.”

Recently, the group jump-started a new program: Wake Up Call. “We were getting so many calls from parents who were asking what they should be looking for,” says Sandi. So, the group staged a bedroom with more than 20 common signs of substance abuse. The bedroom is divided by a male and female side of the room and is filled with paraphernalia that was either purchased online or locally without an ID, or from Tyler’s own childhood bedroom.

The first average age of use in the United States is fourth grade.

“From the time he was 11, there were signs in Tyler’s bedroom I did not recognize,” says Sandi. “Wake Up Call is meant to tell parents that believe it or not, this could be happening in your home and we’re going to give you some tools for talking with your kid.”

This spring, a permanent Wake Up Call bedroom was opened at the Hartland Fire Department Survive Alive House. In the first 28 hours, over 600 people passed through the room.

The space is filled with:

  • Homemade and purchased objects children commonly use to transport or use drugs, aerosols and alcohol
  • Objects that promote the culture of alcohol and drug abuse
  • Common bedroom hiding places youth use to store paraphernalia

At the program’s closing, the team offers time for parents to process and think about their next steps. “We don’t want parents to overreact,” says Sandi. “It’s not helpful for the family if parents go home and put a wall up, so we offer resources and tips for talking about drug abuse.”

Sandi hopes the program will help parents intervene earlier and give them resources to save lives. “As parents, we want to be with our kids 24/7,” says Sandi. “But we can’t. We want our kids to go out into the world and make the right choices.”

To learn more about Your Choice, their various programs and public events scheduled for this spring, visit their website.

February 1, 2017 - 9:49am

OCD in ASDChildren on the autism spectrum are often extra attentive to detail, enjoy having things just so and prefer the structure of daily patterns. These behaviors probably please your child and help him or her navigate the world around them.

“For kids on the autism spectrum, one of the prevailing characteristics is a rigidity toward routine, whether it’s a certain schedule or family routine,” says Joshua Nadeau, PhD, clinical supervisor, Rogers Behavioral Health–Tampa Bay. “But keeping a strict schedule can also be a characteristic of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)."

How can you tell if a child’s behavior is related to ASD or OCD?

According to Dr. Nadeau, when a child has ASD, they have ego-syntonic behaviors. “When a child with ASD feels good about having things a certain way or in a certain order, it brings pleasure,” he says. “If the child thinks of him or herself as a neat and orderly person, it makes them feel good to have a tidy environment.”

A child who has ASD and untreated OCD likely has ego-dystonic, or unwanted, behaviors. “When a child has OCD, they engage in repetitive, compulsive behaviors because they’re afraid of what’s going to happen if they don’t,” says Dr. Nadeau. “They don’t enjoy the behaviors and sometimes feel miserable because they think they’re doing them incorrectly.”

If a child with ASD engages in these behaviors (or demands the structure of a daily routine), but continues to show displeasure or appears miserable, this may be a sign of OCD. Generally speaking, a child with solely ASD would feel pleased or “settled down” after showing these behaviors.

New programming at Rogers

“More than 50% of children on the spectrum also have significant anxiety,” says Dr. Nadeau. “What’s concerning is it’s often very difficult for families and providers to find effective treatment.”

Rogers–Tampa Bay will soon open an Anxiety and Mood Disorders in ASD partial hospital program. The program will offer part-day treatment for children ages 6-18 with ASD and co-occurring OCD, anxiety, depression or other mood disorders. Family education and involvement will be a strong component of the program.

Symptoms vary by disorder, but common signs include:

  • Significant fears of different situations
  • Increased irritability or unusually cranky behavior
  • Decrease or loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Unexplained increase in feelings of worthlessness, guilt, or negative self-talk

“It’s important to know we’re not treating autism through this program,” says Dr. Nadeau. “We’re giving kids on the spectrum the skills and resilience they need to decrease their anxiety or depression symptoms.”

To learn more about the program, contact outreach representative Kara Rapozo at 813-294-8469 or Begin the admissions process by requesting a free, confidential screening.

December 22, 2016 - 8:20am

Having a mindful holidayWith the holiday season upon us, the rush to find the perfect gift or pressure to prepare the perfect meal can be overwhelming. If you have a history of anxiety or challenges with a mood disorder, it’s an especially important time to be aware of your mental health.

“Even if people with anxiety or mood disorders are doing well, depression and anxiety can worsen in times of increased stress,” says Jerry Halverson, MD, medical director of Rogers Memorial Hospital–Oconomowoc and FOCUS residential mood disorders program for adults. “During the holidays, we have higher expectations and want everything to be perfect, so there’s pressure to fit more in our schedules than we normally do.”

When we’re busy, we’re not able to spend as much time on the things we should. “When you have to give more of your time to holiday activities or gatherings, the first things to drop out of your schedule are typically self-care activities,” says Dr. Halverson. “These are the enjoyable, meaningful things we do to keep ourselves well, such as sleep, exercise, spending time with pets or being outside.”

How can you make sure you’re on track to have a healthy holiday? Dr. Halverson recommends being mindful. “Be present in the moment by thinking about where you’re at, how you’re feeling and how you’re thinking,” he says. “It’s something we should all practice. If you’re mindful, you’re more likely to identify when your mood or anxiety reach an unhealthy level.”

“It can be difficult to find time to invest in yourself and in your mental health, but there’s a much larger price if you don’t take the time to do that,” says Dr. Halverson.

If you believe someone may need extra support this holiday, Dr. Halverson recommends starting a conversation. “Oftentimes, if you’re dealing with a mood or anxiety disorder, you don’t have insight or understand the effect your mental health is having on your behavior and relationships with others,” he says.

Common signs that you or someone you know may have depression or anxiety include:

  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or hopelessness
  • Not enough or too much time spent sleeping
  • Changes in appetite, energy or concentration
  • Thoughts or discussion about suicide or self-harm

One way to support someone is to offer assistance in appropriate situations. “If you’re going holiday shopping, ask your loved one to go with you,” says Dr. Halverson. “Your stressful shopping trip will probably be more enjoyable with people you know. Bring your friends along to the stimulating, positive activities you enjoy.”

If you or someone you know may need professional support, begin by requesting a free confidential screening online.

November 22, 2016 - 2:54pm

Not feeling holiday spirit this year? Peggy Scallon, MD, medical director of the residential FOCUS Adolescent Mood Disorders Program at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Oconomowoc, recommends doing your best to get out and stay connected. Watch her interview on CBS 58 for tips on managing the holiday blues.

October 26, 2016 - 8:03am

Fears don't end after HalloweenAs children in your community participate in this year’s trick-or-treat, many will shriek with excitement from the scary costumes, ghoulish décor and other Halloween horrors. The day after, the frightening excitement will melt away and children will return to their usual fall time schedules. But for thousands of children with anxiety in the United States, dealing with real fear every day of the year is reality.

Anxiety in children might not always appear in the way you’d expect. “A lot of children will describe feeling tense or parents will notice their child losing weight due to a loss of appetite,” says Cuong Tieu, MD, medical director of the residential Child Center, located on the Rogers Memorial Hospital–Oconomowoc campus. “Children may also complain about having an upset stomach, sweaty palms, racing heart, diarrhea or difficulty breathing, while teenagers tend to report feeling worried or afraid of certain events.”

But what are kids with anxiety afraid of? “Pediatric anxiety varies by child and can range from specific phobias about the dark or heights to separation from parents,” says Dr. Tieu. “Anxiety depends on our life experiences and how we perceive threatening or provoking events in our lives, as well as our genetic makeup.”

Pediatric anxiety rises above the occasional bad dream or worry about a monster in the closet. “All children experience anxiety at some level, but it’s how they manage it that’s important,” says Dr. Tieu. “We’re concerned about the type of anxiety that causes a child to shut down or fall short of their academic, social and family potential.” The sooner a child or teen begins treatment for anxiety and learns healthy ways to express emotions, the more likely they will be able to successfully manage the anxiety into adulthood.

“The demoralizing, negative experiences a child has as a result of their anxiety simply fuel and reinforce avoidance behaviors, causing anxiety to worsen over time because it’s not being addressed,” says Dr. Tieu. “With the help of the treatment team and evidence-based exposure therapy, children can create positive experiences by learning to control their anxiety with coping skills.”

Sometimes, parents believe their child will simply grow out of their anxiety. “Oftentimes, a parent has had their own anxiety since childhood, which is why they may minimize their own child’s symptoms or believe they can learn to manage it on their own,” says Dr. Tieu. “It’s a huge moment in therapy when a parent realizes how differently their adult life may have been if they had access to the treatment their child is receiving.”

As a parent, what should you do if you believe your child may have an anxiety disorder? Dr. Tieu recommends collecting observations on your child from multiple sources and in many different settings. “Parents have experience with their child in one primary setting: the home,” he says. “So it’s good to explore other settings. Talk with your child’s teachers, other parents and family members who are involved in your child’s life.” If anxiety-related behaviors are present across these different settings, Dr. Tieu recommends reaching out for professional treatment.

October 20, 2016 - 9:00am

Symptom Accommodation for Pediatric OCDExposure and response prevention (ERP) treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) isn’t easy, especially when you’re a child or teenager. Every day, your treatment team is asking you to face your worst fears and avoid using your repetitive behaviors or rituals to control your anxiety. Because treatment can be difficult, it’s necessary for parents to be actively involved in their child’s care plan and not participate in symptom accommodation.

“Symptom accommodation is the actions taken by parents, siblings, family members, friends, teachers and anyone who unintentionally reinforces a person’s OCD by catering to their anxiety,” says Stephanie Eken, MD, regional medical director at Rogers Behavioral Health. “Research tells us that at least 70% of parents or family members engage in symptom accommodation and I would say much of the remaining 30% probably aren’t aware they are accommodating.”

Common ways in which parents participate in symptom accommodation include:

  • Allowing a child to miss an activity because they’re anxious about it
  • Participating in a child’s ritual for them, checking and re-checking that doors and windows are locked
  • Assisting in a child’s ritual, purchasing a certain brand of soap in bulk at the child’s request or opening a door for a child who is afraid of contamination
  • Providing reassurance, answering a child’s repetitive questions to their exact standards, even if you don’t know the answer
  • Waiting for a child’s rituals to be completed or changing your schedule
  • Decreasing the child’s age-appropriate responsibilities, doing chores or homework for them

Parents accommodate for a variety of reasons. “Many parents have provided reassurance to their children without OCD and it worked for those kids,” says Dr. Eken. “But for children with OCD, providing reassurance is a time-consuming bottomless pit and will only fuel the child’s anxiety in the long-run.” Parents are also more likely to accommodate if their child has severe OCD symptoms or a disruptive behavior disorder, such as ADHD; there is a high amount of stress in the family; or if one or more of the parents has OCD.

In the beginning, parents may think they’re being too harsh for reducing their accommodation—or that’s it’s easier to soothe their child’s anxiety in the moment, especially if they’re having an outburst. “Several studies have shown that symptom accommodation can worsen or maintain a child’s symptoms because they’re never able to experience habituation,” says Dr. Eken. “When a child habituates, they get used to their anxiety over time and realize they have the ability to ride it out, without using their compulsion.”

Those with higher rates of family accommodation are also at a higher risk of having refractory OCD. “Refractory OCD is difficult to treat OCD and patients may not experience as great of symptom reduction,” says Dr. Eken. “But once families engage in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment and ERP, accommodation tends to decrease because it’s something we purposely discuss.”

So what should parents do? “At Rogers, we like to talk about parents as coaches,” says Dr. Eken. “When parents, the child and the therapist are a united front against OCD, the child can more easily receive motivation and consistent messaging. Parents help their child complete gradual exposures and process that their anxiety isn’t dangerous. It doesn’t feel good, but it can’t hurt them.”

It’s also important for parents to find time for themselves. “Reading a book, going on a date, doing something that has nothing to do with your child can help you be more present and energetic during treatment,” says Dr. Eken. “Support groups can also be helpful and allow parents to share their challenges and successes with others who understand their struggle.”

September 27, 2016 - 8:05am

MAT services in Brown DeerThis spring, Rogers Memorial Hospital–Brown Deer began offering a new program: Opioid Addiction Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) with Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT). The program, which was designed specifically for adults with opioid addiction who want to add medications for reducing withdrawal and cravings symptoms into their care plan, has been well received by patients.

“Because every patient is dealing with opioid addiction, they can thoroughly relate to one another without judgment,” says Jeff Schroeder, alcohol and drug addiction counselor at Rogers–Brown Deer. “Opioid addiction is different from alcohol or other addictions and Rogers specializes in treating it.”

In a program like this, patients receive a comprehensive, evidence-based behavioral therapy treatment plan in combination with buprenorphine/naloxone. While other medications for opioid addiction are offered to patients in Rogers’ other, specialized outpatient programs for addiction and dual diagnoses, patients in the opioid IOP-MAT program are exclusively on preparation of buprenorphine/naloxone. This allows each patient individually to develop the foundation to prevent relapse and address obstacles to recovery.

Schroeder explains the program has experienced a spike in the number in patients seeking treatment earlier in their addiction, typically three to four years. “As compared to patients who have been addicted for 10 to 15 years, these patients often don’t feel the need to go to the same lengths in treatment because they haven’t experienced the same number of consequences,” says Schroeder. “This unique, eight-week program helps break down that minimization and denial.”

In addition to medication and therapy, family participation in bi-weekly education sessions has also been a key aspect of patient success for this new program. “Families are more connected to their loved one because they get a better idea of what they’ve been going through and how they can help them get well,” says Schroeder. “It also makes relapse less likely and supports more open communication between the family and patient.”

Tatjana Barisic-Dujmovic, MD, adult psychiatrist at Rogers–Brown Deer, says continuing care with outpatient programs that incorporates medications for opioid addiction is key. “When we have a referral from the community or one of our inpatient units, we do our best to admit that person into IOP immediately when they are seeking help,” she says. “If we don’t, they are more likely to relapse and feel that treatment is not accessible. Patients initiating treatment on their own is so precious that we want to use that opportunity to further engage them. It takes lots of courage to seek treatment.”

A psychiatrist sees patients upon starting the program, and will induct the patient on a buprenorphine/naloxone combination. This helps the patient cope with opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings so that they can focus on learning coping skills in the group.

The opioid addiction program is longer in length – about eight weeks – than other intensive outpatient programs. “Our patients find it beneficial and would actually prefer to continue with the program even longer. For that reason alone, the program could be called a success,” says Dr. Barisic-Dujmovic. “And even though this is a difficult time, the majority of patients establish supportive relationships with one another and encourage each other to attend community meetings after leaving Rogers.”

Other MAT program options are available in various levels of treatment at Rogers’ locations in:

September 14, 2016 - 2:55pm

Christo Rey High School Draft Day 2016Four students from Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Milwaukee have joined the staff at Rogers Memorial Hospital–Brown Deer as part of their work/study program this school year. Through the nationwide network of 32 Cristo Rey schools, students receive professional work experience and defer the cost of their education by working one to two days per week at local businesses.

“We’re so excited for Rogers–Brown Deer to be a part of this program and get to know our students on a personal level,” says Carole Carter-Olkowski, academic and community engagement liaison at Rogers Memorial Hospital. “Our two high school freshmen and two sophomores are helping out in our staff development, purchasing and dietary and food services departments.”

According to staff, the Cristo Rey students and their enthusiasm have been a breath of fresh air. “They have been excellent,” says Ryan Geller, manager of culinary and nutritional services at Rogers–Brown Deer. “They have spent their first few weeks learning about Rogers and our services, along with what goes into the daily operations of a hospital.”

The students’ tasks include cost comparison, data entry, spreadsheets and invoices; filling orders; making deliveries; helping facilitate employee orientations and other administrative duties. “Often when students consider healthcare positions, they think they can only be a doctor or nurse,” says Carter-Olkowski. “But this program allows them to see the variety of positions involved in healthcare—especially the behavioral aspect—such as social work and counseling.”

Cristo Rey reports 32 percent of their 2008 graduating class have earned bachelor’s degrees, which is twice the national average for low-income students. “It’s important for us to help develop their skills, build their resumes and motivate them to attend college,” says Carter-Olkowski. “If they already have a sense of a career path they’d like to take and solid work experience, they’re more likely to finish college.”

But how do high school students prepare for these positions? In a five-week summertime business boot-camp, students receive training at Manpower, a human resource consulting firm. “Many of the students are already computer savvy,” says Carter-Olkowski. “But through Manpower, they receive additional technical classes in Excel, Word and Outlook, as well as confidentiality training through OSHA. At Rogers, they continue their training and gain lifelong skills.”

This August, Cristo Rey held a sports-inspired Draft Day, a special event where students found out which businesses they would work for. “To make sure each student has a positive experience, they complete a resume describing their interests and previous work history, and Cristo Rey matches them with an employer,” says Carter-Olkowski. “It was a really special day and we made Rogers hats and t-shirts with their graduation dates on the back.”

For Rogers, the Cristo Rey program offers a way to develop and keep valuable talent. “Next year, the students will decide if they’d like to remain at Rogers or experience a new business,” says Carter-Olkowski. “Sometimes, businesses offer their students internships or part-time positions because they’re so pleased with their work.”

Next year, four to five teams of students will also work at Rogers–Oconomowoc. “Now that more businesses in the area are participating, Cristo Rey will be able to bus students further west,” says Carter-Olkowski. “Our Oconomowoc managers have shown high interest in the program and we’re considering positions in our human resources, staff development and revenue cycle departments.”

Before officially joining the program, Brown Deer staff members were able to hear from Cristo Rey graduates who are now employed locally, as well as from employers who participated in the program last year. “It’s so inspiring to see the program keeps giving back to the kids,” says Carter-Olkowski. “The students build lasting relationships with their employers and as one of the leading behavioral health systems in the United States, I’m proud we can give back to the community in this way.”

Overall, there is a sense of excitement for what this new partnership will bring, especially among the students. “Everyone is very welcoming and take their work seriously,” says Jacki, a Cristo Rey student. “I really respect the work they do here at Rogers and I know this experience is going to be one for the books.”


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