Linden Oaks renovation creates new space By Melissa Jenco, Chicago Tribune reporter September 13, 2012
As doctors and therapists provided mental health services at Linden Oaks at Edward's outpatient center in recent years, they came across a challenge of their own – lack of space.
Employees began giving up offices to be used for group therapy sessions and support groups spilled out into hallways.
That changed this month with the opening of a newly renovated 45,000-square-foot facility that its leaders say provides the space and atmosphere to treat the growing number of patients seeking treatment.
Linden Oaks CEO Mary Lou Mastro said staff aimed to create an outpatient center that removed the stigma often attached to mental illness.
"We have to be warm and welcoming and help people feel like there's hope," she said. " … At the end of the day this is about helping people feel like there's hope and with our help they can get better and they don't have to continue to live with the depression or in the darkness or the fear that they have."
The $3.5 million project created an outpatient center at 1335 N. Mill St. that gives Linden Oaks an additional 20,000 square feet of space.
Staff at the center will provide diagnoses and treatment of conditions including chemical dependency, depression, self-injury, bi-polar disorder and anxiety.
Over the last five years, outpatient services, which are available in Naperville, Plainfield and St. Charles, have been experiencing more than 10 percent annual growth especially as other groups face state funding cuts and are forced to eliminate services, according to Linden Oaks Executive Director Gina Sharp.
"We work together with patients and their families to achieve recovery as they define it," Mastro said. "So they define what their goals are and then we help them set up a plan to achieve those goals and to re-integrate into the community."
The new center includes consultation rooms and group therapy rooms that overlook wooded landscapes. Rooms are designed to be soundproof and are equipped with screens that staff can connect to laptops in order to give presentations. Computers in waiting room areas throughout the building allow patients to access the Internet to research programs and lockers in the hallway provide space for them to leave their belongings while they focus on therapy.
The center also has a conference room on the first floor that can hold nearly 100 people who come for support groups and community education programs. Just down the hall is a resource center staffed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness where visitors can get more information about after-care programs and support groups.
The facility has "not just a beautiful, spacious, healing environment, we also have a lot of technology in this building, which is very exciting," Sharp said.
Beth Sack, coordinator of the addiction program, called the second floor chemical dependency unit "gorgeous" and said patients are excited about the new space.
"Something that we're really excited is for our 12-step groups," she said. "Some of them are fairly large, 40 to 50 people, and they were getting crammed in a room and had to wait standing in the hallway so we have a room now that we're able to have them fit comfortably in."
M. Joann Wright, director of anxiety services, called the center "light and airy" and said space has doubled for her unit and allowed Linden Oaks to create a new program, "Aspirations," to treat teenagers with Asperger's syndrome and mood and anxiety disorders.
The opening of the outpatient center comes just months after Linden Oaks completed an 8,500-square foot expansion of the inpatient facility on the campus of Edward Hospital, 801 S. Washington.
Linden Oaks will hold a ribbon cutting and open house at the new outpatient center on Mill Street from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 28. For more information about Linden Oaks call 630-305-5500.