An Inside Look at Amberwing

By KBJR News 1

August 22, 2012 Updated Aug 22, 2012 at 10:43 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Inside the wall of Amberwings, you'll soon find a new and improved way of providing care.

"I think it will make a huge difference in terms of how people get treatment," said Pat Burns, the president of the Miller-Dwan Foundation.

The nearly 26,000 foot facility along with a staff of experts will provide care for 60 children and young adults.

"We've added dialectical behavior therapies, so we've implemented for skills, mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness and distress tolerance," said Dr. Rick Gertsema, clinical supervisor for Amberwing. "We touch those skills every day to all of the kids."

Students will receive individual and group therapy along with school classes in the partial hospitalization setting. Amberwing will also provide alternative therapies including art, music, and occupational.
An aggressive program, leaders say, with life changing implications.

"We start to really recognize mental illness, chemical dependency, addictions as something we treat and honor as we do any other physical illness," said Burns.

According to a 2004 report, 145,000 youth in Minnesota have a diagnosable disorder. 69,000 have a functional impairment due to a mental illness. Those alarming statistics moved the Miller-Dwan Foundation to launch a fundraising campaign nearly three years ago to help change lives around. Six million dollars later, Amberwing leaders say they couldn't have done it without the community.

"What it shows is when the Duluth community makes the commitment, they meet the commitment, exceed the commitment, and what they have done is raise the bar and raise the standard of care for kids and families who struggle with mental and chemical dependency issues," said Dr. Gertsema.

The first-of-its-kind behavioral health center is already making a name for itself.

"I think we'll be the national model for how to work with kids in a partial hospitalization program," added Dr. Gertsema.

The-Miller Dwan Foundation is hosting an open house tomorrow from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Amberwing will officially open its doors in early September.

Kevin Jacobsen
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