Simpson named 2014 Behavioral Healthcare Champion


BRATTLEBORO -- Brattleboro Retreat President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Robert E. Simpson, Jr., has been named by Behavioral Healthcare magazine as a 2014 Behavioral Healthcare Champion along with four other leaders in the field of mental health from across the nation. The 2014 Champions were selected from outstanding nominees across the country who, according to the magazine, are making a difference in the development, delivery, and effectiveness of mental healthcare services.

"True leaders create lasting impact, and our 2014 Behavioral Healthcare Champions all have an eye on the future," said Editor-in-Chief Julie Miller of Behavioral Healthcare magazine. "Their drive to find new and more effective ways to serve their clients is reflected not just in their own organizations' success but also in the progress they've witnessed in their communities."

The 2014 Behavioral Healthcare Champions are profiled in the July/August 2014 issue of Behavioral Healthcare magazine and were recognized at a special ceremony during the National Conference on Addiction Disorders and the co-located Behavioral Healthcare Leadership Summit, which was held in St. Louis, Mo., Aug. 22 through 26.

Simpson's many achievements since becoming the Retreat's CEO in November 2006 are discussed in-depth in the profile. Among those achievements are a complete revamp of the hospital's admissions process that replaced a multi-channel system of patient access with a streamlined, single access point that makes access to the Retreat's numerous programs easier and more dignified for patients.

Under Simpson's watch, the Retreat has successfully launched four specialty clinical services designed to better meet the psychiatric and addiction treatment needs of distinct populations that are typically underserved. They are the Adult Inpatient Program for people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender; the Emerging Adult Inpatient Program for young adults ages 18 to 26; the Uniformed Service Program, a partial hospital program designed to meet the unique needs of law enforcement, fire fighters, corrections officers, military personnel, and first responders suffering from PTSD and other duty-related issues including addiction to alcohol and other drugs, major depression, and domestic violence; and the Mind Body Pain Management Clinic, a treatment alternative for people experiencing chronic pain that utilizes biofeedback, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, mindfulness and mindful movement in place of typical treatments such as medication and surgery.

During Simpson's tenure the Retreat has experienced tremendous growth, having increased its number of staffed beds from an average of 50 in 2006 to an average of 122 in 2014. During the same time, the Brattleboro Retreat has doubled its number of employees from approximately 400 to more than 800.

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, with the state hospital in Waterbury badly damaged by flooding, Simpson and the Board of Trustees made the difficult decision to accept 14 displaced patients suffering from a variety of extremely severe mental illnesses. That decision led to a more long-term partnership with the Vermont Department of Mental Health that saw the creation of a permanent, 14-bed unit at the Retreat designed to provide state-of-the-art care for some of Vermont's most vulnerable citizens.

Simpson has also been an active participant in state-wide advocacy and legislative efforts that have helped streamline the judicial review process in involuntary commitment cases so that severely ill patients can be admitted to the hospital sooner, and when needed, receive appropriate treatment in a more timely fashion.

In the last seven years, Simpson has also spearheaded the completion of numerous major facility upgrades and deferred maintenance projects at the Brattleboro Retreat totaling more than $10 million. These capital investments have resulted in significantly modernized patient care areas that have simultaneously allowed the hospital to preserve its historic look and feel.

"Rob has been a tireless advocate for people who struggle with mental health problems, addiction, and stigma," said Bette Abrams, chair of the Brattleboro Retreat Board of Trustees. "His leadership has helped ensure that the Retreat will continue its tradition of providing innovative, compassionate care -- and we are thrilled to congratulate him for earning the title of 2014 Behavioral Healthcare Champion."


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