Leading the Way

Mary Greeley leans into offering comprehensive mental health care with an assist from the Foundation

Christy Krause, director of the unit, confers with Christina Mayfield, unit supervisor.When thinking back about her more than two decades of leadership in Behavioral and Mental Health Services at Mary Greeley, Christy Krause has a hard time pinpointing a specific moment that stands out above the rest. What has stuck with her is a sense of pride in knowing that Mary Greeley has continually stepped up to lead.

“We have made it a priority to lean in and sustain and build on the programs,” says Krause, who retired in March after 24 years as Director of Behavioral and Mental Health Services. “We’ve hung in there to do what is right for this community.”

The commitment to doing what’s right for those living with mental health issues includes expanding services beyond inpatient care—while many providers around the state were eliminating similar care options. During Krause’s tenure, Mary Greeley has made a concerted effort to offer more services in more ways to more patients.

Growth in the continuum of mental health care at Mary Greeley has been centered around the continued commitment to deliver inpatient care. That care has been supplemented by a robust adult outpatient program and a transitional living program to help those living with mental health issues re-enter the community.

“Our efforts in developing our continuum of care have been thoughtful,” Krause says. “We have leaned on our local partners and worked closely with them as a key stakeholder to identify what services are necessary, where the gaps exist and how best to fill those gaps.”

“We have always been focused on gathering the data to determine what is needed when,” she continues. “Every single community needs survey that we receive talks about the critical nature of providing mental health services in our community. It doesn’t matter if it is a survey done by the city, the county or even Mary Greeley itself. That is always one of the issues that rises to the top.”

Private gifts to the Mary Greeley Foundation designated for mental health services have been instrumental in fostering continued growth. In addition to gifts from individual donors, the annual Hope Gala provides critical funds to benefit Behavioral and Mental Health Services.

“One role the foundation has been very supportive in is helping us to recruit providers, particularly psychiatrists,” Krause says. Currently, the service has two psychiatrists and three psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners on staff. “As the service continues to look for ways to serve the community, that Foundation support of recruitment will remain vital. And that’s not all. The Foundation has also helped significantly with funding specialized training for our staff, purchasing equipment, enhancing our facilities and more.”

While Krause is now retired, she says she is confident the service will continue to evolve to meet the needs of the community. In the near term, Krause says developing the continuum of care for adolescent patients will become a priority. She says in recent years it has become easier to talk about the importance of a robust mental health offering.

“It is a much more open conversation these days because the stigma associated with mental health care continues to decline,” Krause says. “That is exciting. We have seen a lot happen in the last five years and even more is going to happen in the next five years. We are going to see that continued evolution.”

“In the past, receiving mental health care meant you were shuffled all over the place,” she adds. “It wasn’t like diabetes, for instance, where you went to an appointment and got the care you needed. We are offering more care in more ways locally now. In an area like Ames and Story County that is huge. You don’t have to be moved all over the state to get the care you need.”

Krause says it is going to continue to take a community effort – including support from private donors to the Foundation – to meet the evolving mental health care needs in the region.

“Recruiting psychiatrists is the key piece, because once we have that expertise on staff, we can collaborate to build programs around them,” she says. “When it comes down to it, those with mental health issues in this community need what Mary Greeley provides and our goal should be to continue to find ways to serve more.”

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