Donor Spotlight: Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Donor Spotlight: Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Janssen Pharmaceuticals is committed to providing safe and effective medicines and the services and supports that contribute to healthy outcomes. Since 2014, Janssen has been a generous supporter of Thresholds, most recently funding our innovative MindStrong program.

Thresholds’ MindStrong program provides early intervention services to young adults, ages 15-30, with a diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder who are experiencing first episode psychosis. Dedicated to providing the right supports at the earliest signs of need, MindStrong uses rapid assessment and individualized care planning to address the effects of psychosis on school, work, relationships, independence, and identity development.

MindStrong gives individuals experiencing first episode psychosis the supports needed for a hopeful, successful recovery. We are grateful to Janssen Pharmaceuticals for their generosity – for believing in our work and in the individuals we serve.

President’s Opioid Plan Must Go Further

Last week, President Trump declared the deadly opioid crisis plaguing communities across the nation a public health emergency. We commend the President for shining a spotlight on this epidemic. Opioid addiction has skyrocketed in recent years and tragically so too have the related overdoses and deaths.

The President highlighted his plans for addressing this critical issue which included lifting regulations that have historically posed barriers to accessing treatment. While this is an important step in the right direction, notably absent was the mention of any new investment in prevention or treatment. This is an unfortunate missed opportunity – without a substantial investment in addiction treatment, as well as related mental health treatment, the epidemic will continue to rage unabated.

Current federal investment in strengthening the access to treatment made possible through the bi-partisan 21st Century Cures Act comes to an end next year. Meanwhile, Congress, with the support of the President, has continued to push for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and catastrophic cuts to Medicaid – a primary source of health coverage for many living with substance use conditions and associated mental health conditions. Hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans with these conditions have gained access to treatment because of the ACA and Medicaid. Misguided attempts to dismantle the ACA and cut Medicaid threaten access to the very life-saving treatment that is needed to stem this epidemic.

We urge the President to build on his commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic by calling for investment in evidence-informed prevention and community-based treatment, ending attacks on the ACA and Medicaid, and promoting improved coverage for treatment.

The reality is the battling the opioid crisis will take time and significant investment at the national and state levels. By the President’s own account, no community has been spared – both rural and urban, rich and poor alike have been devastated by opioid addiction. While recognizing the severity of the problem and removing administrative barriers to accessing treatment are important first steps, much more is needed.

Yusuf’s Story

Yusuf’s Story

Before finding Thresholds, Yusuf struggled with an untreated mental illness and substance use disorders that left him living on the streets and eventually institutionalized. “I didn’t know how much it affected me because I didn’t know the difference,” Yusuf said, “I was out of touch with reality.” In 2009, Yusuf was transferred to a Thresholds ACT team, a service that provides intensive support to ensure clients are able to take the first steps toward recovery.

Photo of Thresholds member Yusef and his cat

For Yusuf, having a safe and stable place to live was the key to his recovery. After he began receiving Thresholds’  services, he was able to secure housing and, with hard work and dedication, reclaim his life. “Now I have something to lose and if I mess up now, I won’t live long enough to turn it back around.”

Today, Yusuf is a proud mental health advocate and self-proclaimed stay-at-home cat dad. He spends his time reading and providing support to other Thresholds clients. “That’s how someone reached me, with their story,” Yusuf said, “I feel I can share my story to help others.”

Yusuf has used Thresholds’ services to create a fulfilling life that he’s proud of and completed his home with the addition of his cat, Patti, who has also become part of his support system. “Having my pet has really helped me in my recovery. It has helped me to care and love other life,” he said, “I wouldn’t be where I am without her.”

Thresholds to Open New Service Center

Thresholds to Open New Service Center

This fall, Thresholds will open our new Service Center that will serve as a single point of entry for all inquiries related to clinical, business, and operational services.

A licensed clinician (LCSW) will supervise the department to ensure quality control, providing feedback and intervention for questions and situations requiring clinical expertise – particularly in times of crisis. When possible, the Service Center will also screen and route individuals, centralizing the scheduling process for referrals. Implementing this system will allow Thresholds staff to respond faster to general inquiries and calls, and make necessary linkages throughout the agency in a more thoughtful and efficient manner.

All of this is made possible through generous grants from the Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute and the Michael Reese Health Trust, who have donated $285,000 and $200,000 respectively.

Beginning October 2, 2017, all calls will be routed through the Service Center at (773) 572-5500.

Donor Spotlight: Hoellen Family Foundation

Donor Spotlight: Hoellen Family Foundation

This month, Thresholds is pleased to feature the Hoellen Family Foundation. For the past three years, the Hoellen Family Foundation has been a generous supporter of Thresholds’ fully accredited secondary education program, the Loren E. Juhl School.

Founded in 1974, the Loren E. Juhl School serves young adults (ages 16 – 21) with complex mental health needs. A trusted referral partner of the Chicago Public School system, Juhl School has a 20-25 student enrollment and boasts 5-to-1 teacher-to-student ratios. Students of Loren E. Juhl also have access to the full range of services provided by Thresholds’ innovative Young Adult Program (YAP), including: housing support and placement, vocational and educational services, access to individual and group therapies, and psychiatric and primary healthcare.

The Hoellen Family Foundation has been a great partner to Loren E. Juhl School, most recently funding a much-needed update to the school’s computer lab. With their support, students of Loren E. Juhl received the technological resources needed to stay on track with their education. Thank you for believing in the students we serve!

Recent Senate Healthcare Actions Are Outrageous

Thresholds Statement: Senate Bills to Repeal and Replace Affordable Care Act Threaten Access to Care for Millions Living With Mental Health and Substance Use Conditions

Chicago, IL – Yesterday, the Senate took a procedural vote to begin debate on healthcare repeal, moving us one step closer to gutting the protections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and making drastic cuts to Medicaid. This is outrageous. Though there have been several versions of the bill and countless amendments, all have one thing in common – they are catastrophic for access to mental health and substance use treatment.

These efforts amount to little more than taking away health coverage from millions of people and slashing hundreds of billions from Medicaid, the primary payer of mental health and substance use treatment. We thank Senators Durbin and Duckworth who stood strong for Illinoisans and voted no.

Roughly 1 million Illinoisans have gained coverage under the ACA, and nearly 348,000 of them are living with a mental health or substance use condition. The ACA was a game changer for American healthcare.

  • Medicaid Expansion extended coverage to 650,000 low income Illinoisans who were previously uninsured.
  • Essential Health Benefits made sure that mental health and substance use treatment and medication are healthcare services all plans must cover.
  • Protections for those with pre-existing conditions ensure that people living with mental health or substance use conditions won’t be denied coverage.
  • Removing lifetime maximums helped those struggling with chronic health conditions – including mental illness and addiction – maintain access to care.

These changes were huge steps in the right direction, and that’s why we are fighting so hard. Repeal efforts aim to turn back the clock on the assurances and coverage gained through the ACA, but they go even further by piling on enormous Medicaid cuts and caps. This is totally unacceptable.

This fight is not over. We must keep pushing back and stay focused on what’s really at stake – people’s ability to live their fullest, healthiest lives. We will keep you updated as the process unfolds and we look forward to working alongside you in support of home, health, and hope.

Mark Ishaug CEO – Thresholds
Press Contact: Emily Moen, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, 773-572-5172

Thresholds Evaluation Department on Quality and Accountability in Healthcare

Notes from the Field: Quality and Accountability in Healthcare

The Affordable Care Act gave focus and momentum to quality and accountability in healthcare. As we debate the future of healthcare in our country, this should continue to be a focus of any changes or reforms. Value-based healthcare—the concept of linking payment to performance or outcomes achieved relative to costs, rather than the volume of services provided—will continue to be implemented and tested across the healthcare system. Here at Thresholds, that means several things: investing in integrated care and workforce development, partnering with insurers, advocating for standardized measures of value, and developing an evaluation strategy that will lays a foundation for value based care within a fee for service environment.

One part of our strategy is to elevate and focus on process measures, instead of outcome measures. What is a process measure? Process measures are the steps, activities, or evidence-based practices that lead—or you believe lead—to a particular outcome. For example, important process measures in behavioral health include how many consumers with a diagnosis of schizophrenia receive diabetes screening, how many consumers are counseled to stop smoking, and how many consumers have created an action plan to manage their illnesses. Process measures improve quality and can reduce cost by reducing variation in care, and in the process, allowing you to test what outcomes the process measure leads to. Process measures allow providers to systematize their care and allow you to know why you are getting the outcomes you are.

An important process measure that the evaluation department has been tracking is how many of our clients are connected to one of our three integrated care partners. Evidence shows that consistent primary care correlates with lower mortality rates and better management of chronic conditions. As Atul Gwande points out in a recent essay on the value of primary care in the New Yorker, “ … the more complex a person’s medical needs are the greater the benefit of primary care.” For persons with serious mental illness, being linked to a primary care or integrated care partner, with whom we share a philosophy of care and have an ongoing relationship, increases this benefit.

In sum, value-based care has renewed urgency for answers to how to document success and impact. While it is important to document success, it is equally as important to identify those processes, steps and practices that lead to good outcomes. Insofar as processes are often recorded as administrative data, these data are often easier to export, track, and report on than outcome data. Identifying, tracking, and reporting on process measures is a necessary step to improving care and showing good outcomes.

To learn more about Thresholds Evaluation Department, visit

Donor Spotlight: Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County

Donor Spotlight: Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County

Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County LogoThresholds is excited to feature the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County (HFNLC) in our June donor spotlight. The HFNLC, incorporated in June 2006, was funded by the sale of the Saint Therese Medical Center and Victory Memorial Hospital. These two institutions provided compassionate healthcare services to Waukegan and the surrounding communities for most of the 20th century, laying the groundwork for HFNLC’s commitment to solving persistent problems within the healthcare system.

Since first supporting Thresholds nearly a decade ago, HFNLC has made grants to our organization totaling $50,000, most recently supporting Thresholds’ Lake County Program. Thanks to generous support from the HFNLC, the Thresholds Lake County Program had the resources needed to hire a Nurse Care Coordinator. The Nurse Care Coordinator plays an instrumental role in connecting our clients to the full range of health care services needed for a successful recovery. Working closely caseworkers, medical providers, and the broader community, the Nurse Care Coordinator creates a comprehensive education and treatment plan that addresses each client’s mental illness and physical health.

We are grateful to the Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County. Because of their support, individuals in Lake County who are experiencing serious mental illness have access to life-saving services. Thank you for believing in Thresholds and the people we serve!

Donor Spotlight: The Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation

Donor Spotlight: The Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation

In this donor spotlight, Thresholds is excited to feature The Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation. Since 1958, the Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation has supported a range of issues from the arts and academics to medical research and social services. The foundation made its first gift to Thresholds in 1984 and has since donated $253,000 to our organization.

Most recently, The Charles & M.R. Shapiro Foundation has supported our General Operating Fund. General operating support is vital to Thresholds’ success and a key reason for our continued growth. In fiscal year 2017, Thresholds served more than 15,000 individuals experiencing serious mental illnesses across more than 30 unique programs that employed nearly 150 clinical teams. Each of our programs is tailored to meet the unique needs of specific populations experiencing mental illnesses, including: youth, veterans, mothers and their children, individuals exiting the prison system, homelessness, and the deaf or hard of hearing. Gifts to our General Operating Fund give Thresholds the flexibility needed to ensure all of our programs are fully supported.

The Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation has been a dedicated partner of Thresholds for more than 30 years. Because of this, Thresholds can continue offering our clients life-saving, community-based services. We are grateful to the Charles and M.R. Shapiro Foundation and could not do this work without them!

Thresholds Named 2017 Best & Brightest Company to Work For

Thresholds Named Best & Brightest Company to Work For in 2017

Chi Best and BrightestChicago, IL – Thresholds has once again been named one of Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For in 2017 by the National Association for Business Resources. This award is bestowed to companies that distinguish themselves as having the most innovative and thoughtful human resources approach. An independent research firm evaluates each company’s entry based on key measures including compensation, benefits, engagement, retention, employee achievement recognition, communication and shared vision, diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, and community initiatives.

Thresholds has over 1,400 employees working at more than 30 programs throughout the city of Chicago, adjacent suburbs, and nine Illinois counties, in more than 100 total locations. Thresholds promotes a diverse and supportive culture that empowers employees and rewards their accomplishments.

“Thresholds is successful because of our amazing workforce. Our staff have challenging jobs, and they do them with the most amazing heart and drive. I’m inspired by their dedication every day, and I’m thrilled that through this award, the work they do to make Thresholds great is being recognized,” says Mark Ishaug, Thresholds CEO.

“Companies that recognize that their employees are the key to their success achieve staying power. Our 2017 winners create their human resource standards to ensure employee satisfaction and they set standards for every business to aspire toward,” said Jennifer Kluge, President and CEO of MBPA. “We are proud to honor this year’s winners.”

Thresholds congratulates all recipients of this award, especially fellow nonprofit organizations who also share a strong commitment to serving the community. On Monday, July 17, 2017, Thresholds will be honored alongside fellow award winners at a luncheon at the Chicago Marriott Southwest in Burr Ridge, Illinois.

For current, open employment opportunities at Thresholds, please visit our career page.