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News & Press

News & Press

Biz buzz: Burns promoted to chief program officer for Aldea Children and Family Services

Biz buzz: Burns promoted to chief program officer for Aldea Children and Family ServicesJulie Burns, LCSW, has been promoted to chief program officer at Aldea Children and Family Services, overseeing all programs and operations including behavioral health, social services, and victim- centered services.
Burns is a licensed clinical social worker who came to Aldea from Yolo County probation where she was a program manager.

“This is a new position that  combines both senior director positions into one to oversee all programmatic operations in the social services and behavioral health divisions," said CEO Kerry Ahearn.

Burns promoted to Chief Program Officer for Aldea Children and Family Services

Julie BurnsNAPA, Calif. – October 13, 2020–Julie Burns, LCSW has been promoted to Chief Program Officer. overseeing all programs and operations including Behavioral Health, Social Services and Victim Centered Services. Burns is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who came to Aldea from Yolo County Probation where she was a Program Manager. She brings 10+ years of experience in organization administration, program analysis and development, facility operations, workforce development, crisis management and decision making, behavioral health and substance use assessment and treatment in correctional healthcare, community organization, residential facility, and law enforcement environments. “This is a new position that combines both Senior Director positions into one to oversee all programmatic operations in the Social Services and Behavioral Health Divisions.  Creating one position over both divisions will maximize efficiencies, with attention being focused on the internal functioning of the agency, overseeing Aldea’s culture of valuing and caring for staff to ensure they are equipped to care for our clients is a priority.” said Kerry Ahearn, Chief Executive Officer.

About Aldea Children & Family Services: Aldea is the essential community partner for children and families in crisis. We believe that in a family’s most critical moments, the company of a trusted professional can mean the difference between strength and suffering. 
Every day, our expert staff walks with young people on their journey to healing, providing the care that brings both short term comfort and long-term resilience. Because with a community of support, they discover their own ability to create a new life, one moment at a time. For more information please go to their website at aldeainc.org or call 707-224-8266.

New mental health care clinic offers hope for young people at risk of serious illness

When his teenage daughter was ill, suffering from severe  anxiety  and  depression  that would ultimately lead to her death, David Brown and his wife, Seong, were lost trying to    find help in a fragmented, unsupportive health care system in which mental health patients remain underserved and stigmatized.

“I liken our experience to being in a large stadium, and there’s only one bathroom in that stadium, and nobody knows where that bathroom is,” though you keep asking everyone, the Santa Rosa man said Saturday. “That’s what we were like trying to find help for our daughter, and eventually the pressure gets so much that you do not know where to turn. No one is providing you the answer.”

Now, hundreds of Sonoma County residents who each year confront a mental health crisis because they or someone they love is suddenly beset by symptoms they cannot explain are    a step closer to finding needed care with the opening Saturday of a new treatment center in Santa Rosa.

The Elizabeth Morgan Brown Center, named for the daughter David and Seong Brown lost two years ago at age 19, aims to provide holistic, patient-centered care they hope will save others.

Designed specifically to provide early intervention for young people at risk of living with psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, it’s a starting point that founders hope will ultimately expand to address the vastly unmet needs of young people with mental health challenges.

“Suffice to say, the demand is huge,” said Brandon Staglin, president of One Mind, a Rutherford-based mental health advocacy and research nonprofit whose Accelerating Serious Psychiatric Illness Recovery Initiative, or ASPIRe, is behind the clinic’s development.

The new center, similar to existing clinics in Napa and Solano counties, will be operated by two North Bay nonprofit organizations — Buckelew Programs and  Aldea  Children  & Family Services, which also runs the two other clinics.

It’s intended to provide early care to those with serious, emerging disease or who are at risk of it, but even those whose needs fall outside what the center offers will be referred “in a   very warm and supportive way to the right place,” Staglin said.

Services will be available regardless of ability to pay.

The center will offer coordinated care based on an innovative, state-of-the-art approach that includes individual therapy and medications, as well as family-focused therapy, case management, peer services and support in education and employment.

UC Davis Professor Tara Niendam, who is part of the university’s early psychosis clinical team and will provide technical assistance to the Santa Rosa clinic, is to wrap around treatment that addresses medical and social needs, allowing patients to “go on with their lives,” she said during a virtual grand opening Saturday.

“We may need to take you off the highway,” and onto a side road for a time, “but we’re going to get you back on the freeway,” she said.

Initial funding for the center includes $1.5 million over two years from Kaiser Permanente,

$2 million over four years from Sonoma County, through a state Early Psychosis Intervention Plus grant, and close to $500,000 from county Mental Health Service Act funds.

Serious mental illnesses, including major depressive disorder, which can have psychotic features, emerge between the ages of 10 and 24 in about 75% of cases, and occur at a rate of about 273 per 100,000 population per year, according to recent studies, said Staglin.

In Sonoma County, more than 1,300 people each year could thus begin to experience significant mental health symptoms, he said.

Navigating the confusing, inadequate, underfunded system of care during a terrifying time leaves many people untreated, however. This allows progressive illnesses to become more severe — derailing lives, disrupting families and reducing chances for recovery from treatable diseases — Staglin and former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy, a national mental health advocate who participated in the virtual event, said Saturday.

“If you don’t interrupt it early,” Kennedy said, “you’re unable to see the real benefit of mitigating the long-term disability that comes from these very serious illnesses, and I think  it says so much about this program that it’s about that immediate wrap-around for people who have experienced that first incidence.

“Not waiting means that we respond in the urgent way that we would if it were a heart attack, if it were a stroke ... if it were a cancer in stage one,” he continued. “So it really is taking a page in how we address other illnesses and applying that to a set of illnesses that have been too long neglected in our country.”

Elizabeth Brown, a one-time student at Cardinal Newman High School, was herself an advocate for the mentally ill, volunteering for the National Alliance on Mental Illness even as she battled her own disease.

A precocious young woman who left for college at 15 and shared her story with peers as she struggled with what would be diagnosed as borderline personality disorder, she died of suicide in 2018 after years in which she and her parents tried to navigate the Kaiser system and looked elsewhere for help, her parents said.

The new Elizabeth Morgan Brown Center is located at 2300 Northpoint Parkway in Santa Rosa.

Anyone who wants to inquire about assessments or services can call program director Jackie Aguilera at 707-255-1855.

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or mary.callahan@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @MaryCallahanB.



Newsletter: September 15, 2020

We are excited for the residents of Sonoma County that the Elizabeth Morgan Brown Center is now available to serve the public with much needed services for youth suffering from the early onset of psychosis. Please join us for a virtual event September 19,2020 at 11am PDT to celebrate and educate about this much needed facility and the people that help make it happen. 

Click Here to register!

The virtual event will be moderated by Brandon Staglin, President of One Mind and will have several speakers/panelists including Patrick Kennedy of the Kennedy Forum and past congressman for the State of Rhode Island; Tara Neindam, Ph.D. from UC Davis; David & Seong Brown whose daughter the Center is named after; Sonoma County Supervisor Lynda Hopkins; Claire Lampson, sister of a brother receiving care.   Please register today for this wonderful free event.

To our Aldea Family,

Operated by Aldea Children & Family Services, and housed and supported by Buckelew and On The Move, the clinic is staffed by professional mental health personnel, including psychiatrists and nurse practitioners, In its first year, the clinic aims to serve 40 youth and young adults and serve as an early intervention resource for the community to connect families to additional care options. The clinic is part of EPI-CAL and the University of California Davis Early Psychosis Learning Health Care Network, which helps share data and best practices to improve mental health care across the state.

This is Aldea's third early psychosis treatment clinic in the North Bay. Our first clinic opened in Napa County in 2015 in partnership with One Mind.

The new clinic is led by One Mind, and with key financial support from Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Programs. The Elizabeth Morgan Brown Center is the inaugural clinic of One Mind’s ASPIRe initiative. ASPIRe - Accelerating Serious Psychiatric Illness Recovery - aims to enable 100 percent of youth with early serious psychiatric illness to access gold-standard care, compared to only 8 percent today, and for the proportion of patients who recover from serious psychiatric illness to rise from 22 percent today to 75 percent by 2040.

Please join us Saturday virtually to learn about the clinic and the current state of mental health services in your community.

In gratitude,
Kerry Ahearn, LCSW
Kerry Ahearn, LCSW
Chief Executive Officer