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McLean LEADER Provides Specialized Care for First Responders

October 22, 2014 Print

McLean Hospital is proud to be the home of McLean LEADER (Law Enforcement, Active Duty, Emergency Responder), a program providing specialized mental health and addictions services for police, active-duty military, and other first responders. This population endures unique on-duty and personal stresses and often faces many obstacles in seeking expert help.

In the aftermath of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing leaders of the Boston Police Department (BPD) and Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Massachusetts State Police, and other regional law enforcement approached McLean asking that we provide rapid access for them to all of our clinical programs. Simultaneously, in the context of a growing number of suicides, the Massachusetts leadership of the National Guard reached out to us to provide access to expert care.

“We immediately responded by providing priority access to all of our existing programs. We then created the six components of LEADER: inpatient care and detox enhanced by the LEADER consultation team, gender-specific residential and partial hospital care, outpatient trauma services, and a variety of late-day and weekend support groups for uniformed personnel only,” noted McLean’s Chief Medical Officer Joseph Gold, MD, who has overseen the creation of LEADER across multiple clinical divisions.

According to Gold, in the year since launching the program, many LEADER patients have required an initial inpatient stay, most often for acute mental health and life crises, or for substance abuse detox.

For patients who do not need an inpatient level of care, the LEADER program has two residential components.

The residential treatment program for men provides a sanctuary for male uniformed personnel while they participate in treatment at McLean to support their recovery from trauma, depression, alcohol and substance use disorders. Each man residing here participates in a set of on-campus services matched to his unique individual needs, most often in our partial hospital programs. The leadership team of the residence has extensive experience working with military and civilian uniformed personnel.

The Hill Center for Women is the main hub of residential treatment, partial hospital treatment, and specialized consultation for women uniformed personnel. Hill Center features a dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT) skills-based approach that strengthens women’s readiness to return to work and life. Hill Center Program leadership has rare expertise in the many layers of sequential trauma that women may suffer in childhood, in the military, and as police or first responders.

“In order to rapidly evolve our expertise in this area, we have organized training for our clinicians by our own internal experts and by scientific experts of the Veterans Affairs Department, the Department of Defense, the Los Angeles Police Department, and the National Guard, “ added Gold. “This has created an opportunity for all of our trauma experts to consider and learn new evidence-based models including cognitive-processing therapy (CPT), which we are rolling out across levels of care and divisions.”

McLean’s Adult Outpatient Clinic is now enhancing its capacity to provide individual and group therapies for men and women uniformed personnel with trauma or substance abuse issues.