There was a time as recent as 40 years ago in Rhode Island's history when many people who experienced serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder, led a hopeless life of institutionalization in the Institute of Mental Health (IMH). Our mentally ill citizens whose care we could not manage through the community medical system were quietly hidden away in state-owned "hospitals," where their treatment was custodial at best, and inhumane at worst.
By most accounts, the mentally ill were forgotten patients. Their illnesses were misunderstood and stigmatized like no other chronic, biologically based illnesses. In a sparse and grim institutional facility, patients languished in day rooms steeped in a thick haze of highly sedative medications. For mentally ill individuals, these institutions signified the death of hope, the end of the road.
A Providence Center Pioneer Helps to Usher in Hope
Charles E. Maynard
In the early 1970s, hope sprang alive for Rhode Islanders relegated to state, long-term care institutions. Federal funding initiatives paved the way for a "deinstitutionalization movement" that promised an end to the standard practice of committing people with serious mental illnesses to state "mental hospitals." Many states floundered, releasing patients into no organized system of care. Rhode Island, however, built an exemplary system of care in which every patient was discharged to the care of a community mental health system. Under the leadership of Charles E. Maynard, The Providence Center became responsible for 475 Providence residents.
Building an effective care-delivery organization took some pioneering. In 1969 in a rented room in the Biltmore Hotel, Charles began to plan. Charles E. Maynard envisioned a mental healthcare environment that would provide a wide range of treatment and supportive services in order to keep patients out of institutional settings whenever possible. A clinical social worker himself, Charles staffed The Providence Center with a variety of specialists, including psychiatrists, nurses and case managers. The result was the establishment of a unique and comprehensive array of treatment, social and residential services.
This new genre of care was dramatically different than the care people experienced when they were patients in the Institute of Mental Health. As "clients" at The Providence Center, people lived among family and friends, and they learned social skills that enabled them to assimilate into the community.
Over the years, Charles continued to lead the way with program innovation. Supportive services were designed under one roof to work in concert to meet the unique needs of clients. Throughout his tenure as president/CEO, Charles' passion to offer the highest quality of care for people with mental illness has never waned. In 2004, Charles retired and passed the torch to Dale K. Klatzker, Ph.D.
As president/CEO of the Providence Center, Dale has worked to establish partnerships, a strong leadership team, innovative technology and a sense of teamwork and open communication throughout the organization—all to more effectively meet the needs of the more than 11,000 clients The Providence Center serves each year.