With mental health issues in society increasingly a front-burner issue,
advanced by many as a factor contributing to gun violence in the United
States and host of other ills, construction is underway at Boulder Community
Health for an expansive inpatient facility devoted to that area of care.
To be known as the Della Cava Family Medical Pavilion, the 70,000-square-foot
center at the Foothills Campus will house inpatient behavioral health,
outpatient behavioral health including integrative care, electroconvulsive
therapy, an associated neurologists clinic and other clinic space —
as well as a new garage with 400 spaces for patient and employee parking.
The $45 million complex will substantially buttress the options for mental
health care at BCH, which already operates the only acute care hospital
in Boulder County providing inpatient mental health services. Construction
on the new pavilion is expected to be completed by the end of the year,
although a move-in date in early 2019 has not yet been established.
Grant Besser, president of the BCH Foundation, sees mental health as a
"socio-economic-agnostic" health issue, one from which no one
"And the reality is that there is not a parity in care that exists
with mental health, when you look across Boulder County. A lot of our
counterparts have gotten out of the business," Besser said.
"BCH has an opportunity to be nimble and responsive in meeting the
needs of the community. And that's where this investment has come
Key contributors to the pavilion include families who have been touched
by the very issues that its services will be aimed at treating.
One such contributor is Boulder resident John Winsor, executive in residence
at the Harvard Business School, as well as founder and CEO of the Open
Assembly consulting company. He lost his wife of some 32 years last July
when Bridget Winsor ended a yearslong battle with bipolar illness by going
to Gunsport in Boulder, buying a handgun, taking it home and shooting
herself in the family basement.
"Bridget was with a doctor locally who misprescribed her for three
or four months, and that exacerbated her mania," Winsor said Thursday.
"It was a very unfortunate journey and it ended July 25.
"I'm not blaming anybody. None of us knew what was going on, to
begin with. She was so out of control — eight facilities over two
years. And there were legal issues because of some substance abuse issues,
because of the mental illness."
Bridget Winsor, an accomplished triathlete, founder of the Collage Children's
Museum and known for tireless service to many community-based organizations,
was remembered through establishment of the Bridget Winsor Memorial Fund,
with the help of the Boulder Community Health Foundation.
It is funneling $100,000 toward the BCH Mental Health Endowment, which,
once it meets its $2 million goal — it is three-quarters of the
way there — will provide at least $100,000 in grants annually to
community members in need. Grants will range from $100 to thousands of
dollars across four core areas, including transitions (such as temporary
housing or transportation), treatment, health and well-being, and education.
The $2 million Mental Health Endowment is part of a larger $8 million fundraising
goal, toward which Besser said about $5.7 million has now been contributed
by more than 400 community members.
Winsor wants to see far more thought given at the community level to the
struggles of those battling mental illness.
"It doesn't matter if people contribute money or if people contribute
time or emotional support," he said. "My hope would be that
the next time they pass a homeless person, and the person is yelling or
something, they have a little more empathy, and think: that could be my
wife, my son, my mom or my dad.
"We are all human beings and we need to support each other. Not everybody
has the means to support BCH's effort financially, but emotional health
comes from being able to support one another."
'What can we do?'
Longtime Boulder developer Lou Della Cava and wife Melodie will see their
family name on the pavilion in return for the $2 million they have contributed
to the BCH Foundation's mental health initiative. As with the Winsor
family, there is a personal motivation for them.
More than 15 years ago, Melodie Della Cava began developing serious, chronic
migraine headaches. BCH did not have a program to address her problem,
Lou Della Cava said, resulting in their having to consult specialists
in Denver and at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Lou Della Cava has served over the years both on the BCH Foundation Board
and BCH Board of Directors.
As he accompanied his wife on her visits to specialists, he said, "It
began to appear to me as a member of that board, 'Hey, wait a minute,
my wife Melodie is not the only one suffering from this chronic pain.
She's not the only one suffering from this issue.'"
He sees a direct link between afflictions such as his wife has suffered,
and mental health.
"When you start listening to people around the community, and ask,
'How are you doing with your headaches?' we're beginning to
find that mental health — which is really the outgrowth of chronic
pain, or one of the outgrowths — really wasn't being addressed
"I started asking questions — what can we do, what can BCH do,
to establish a presence to deal with these kinds of difficulties? And
it was studied and studied, and now finally in the last year and a half
the hospital has put together a program to address mental health in the
Add Boulder investor and entrepreneur Brad Feld, cofounder of the Foundry
Group and Techstars, to the roster of those who are ponying up to make
the pavilion a reality. He and wife Amy Batchelor, who sits on the BCH
Foundation Board of Trustees, are chairs of the
BCH Foundation Mental Health Campaign and have contributed $1 million of their own money.
"There are a lack of options for people who are struggling with different
mental health issues, especially ones that are episodic," said Feld,
who has been public about his own yearslong struggles with depression,
which has sometimes held him in its grips for months at a time.
"Right now, you have two choices: You can go to the emergency room,
which is maybe, possibly, the worst place in the world for a person to
go who is having an extreme break. And the other place people typically
end up is in jail, which is worse than the emergency room.
"So when the BCH Foundation and the hospital started talking about
it, it was easy for us to get aggressively involved."
Besser said fundraising toward the Mental Health Endowment is further along
than for the Della Cava Pavilion.
"We started with the endowment, because we were waiting for the final
plans for the building. But both have resonated," he said. "People
understand the need to invest, from a capital point of view. They also
get the need to further augment that with the investment through the endowment.
It's been a nice pairing."
It's a cause Besser believes all can embrace, regardless of whatever
rung on the socioeconomic ladder on which they might reside.
BCH cites statistics gleaned from the World Health Organization, which
state that one in four people will have a mental illness in their lifetimes,
the most common being depression or anxiety.
Annually, 260,000 Colorado adults and children need treatment for severe
mental illnesses including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression
and serious emotional disturbances.
"Nobody is really unscathed, as it relates to mental health,"