Mountain View - January 9, 2017 – Mary and Doug Scrivner’s $1 million challenge to create an endowment for ASPIRE, El Camino Hospital’s mental health program for youth and young adults, has been fulfilled six months earlier than anticipated. The Los Altos Hills couple announced their offer to match dollar for dollar all gifts up to a total of $1 million at a press conference on April 20, 2015.
Two hundred sixty nine people, including 72 hospital employees, responded to the call. Marla and Jim de Broekert of Cupertino were the first. “Our grandchildren knew the first teen who committed suicide in Palo Alto in 2009. These suicides are too close to home to ignore,” Marla said at the time. In December, the couple decided they “wanted to be among those who helped to bring this oh-so-important campaign to a successful close,” and bookended their initial commitment with the final gift that put it over the top.
“I think most thoughtful people want to make a difference in this world and to leave a legacy,” Mary said upon hearing the news. “For Doug and I, reaching the goal of the Scrivner Challenge is a good start toward that end and we are thrilled and grateful that so many in our community have stood with us in providing this critical support to ASPIRE.”
ASPIRE “is a uniquely designed and innovative approach to how mental health services can be provided,” says Behavioral Health Services Executive Director Michael Fitzgerald. When his team first looked into creating an intensive outpatient adolescent mental health program to meet the serious need they observed in the community, they found that payers determined what services could be provided. This meant that young people were being discharged quickly, as soon as they were no longer at imminent risk. His team decided to try a new approach they believed would be more effective: all youth would complete a structured program over several weeks, regardless of insurance reimbursement and ability to pay; the program would include services and training for parents; the youth would learn and utilize specific skills to help them more effectively manage the inevitable crises that occur in life. The curriculum they developed has since been accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Now youth who complete it can receive academic credit, which validates and destigmatizes their hard work. To date, more than 500 young adults have done so. The insurance companies have seen the excellent results and even those that initially balked only rarely decline to pay.
Even so, reimbursements do not cover all costs, such as the family education groups, free assessments, specialized training, and after-care services. “We made a decision to provide the care needed and not limit it to reimbursements hoping that donors might step up, which they have done beyond our expectations,” says Fitzgerald. “Because of this support, we are able to provide services that are above and beyond the norm and have expanded to five different programs across two locations.”
When ASPIRE launched in Mountain View in 2010, it focused strictly on the mental health needs of high school students experiencing serious depression and anxiety, and at risk of harming themselves. A second track, created to accommodate growing demand, subsequently opened in Los Gatos. The interest the endowment is already generating enabled the hospital to develop and launch three additional tracks, further increasing access to care. ASPIRE Prep is readying youngsters with severe symptoms for participation in the standard high school program, in some cases helping them avoid hospitalization. ASPIRE Middle School is reaching “tweens” on the cusp of adolescence, who are already experiencing depression and anxiety, and teaching resiliency skills that will help them better navigate the coming stresses of the high school years and beyond. ASPIRE TAY is addressing mental health needs specific to young adults (ages 18-25) who are struggling with the transition to adulthood.
Although the Scrivner Challenge has been fulfilled, gifts to the ASPIRE endowment are still important in order to secure the program’s future. You can contribute at www.elcaminohospital.org/promise.