A Year of Change

When the Institute of Living (IOL) opened its doors in 1824 — making it among the first hospitals of its kind nationwide — it marked a dramatic turning point for psychiatric care. Previously, people suffering from mental illness were either locked up or hidden from society in unspeakable ways.

The IOL helped break down those barriers and eliminate the stigma of mental illness. It offered hope for recovery, and continues to be at the forefront of psychiatric care through research, innovative programs and some of the best clinical minds in the business.

In this year’s edition of The Record, you will learn more about the history of the IOL, its future and what makes it such a special place.

And it is a special place. I have experienced this institution’s various iterations as Psychiatrist in Chief over the past 29 years — from the days when we had 450 beds with an average length of stay of six months, to financial crisis to reinventing ourselves during the managed care revolution.

It was never easy. But through it all we never deviated from what is most important – our patients. Despite the challenges of remaining financially viable, we have managed to stay true to our mission to provide the highest quality, humanistic care, based on the latest scientific advances.

Many of those advances are occurring right here at the IOL, where millions of dollars’ worth of research and learning is happening that I believe will help shape the future of psychiatry. By maintaining physician and nurse residency programs and emulating our centers of excellence across the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network, one of the largest not-for-profit mental health and addiction systems nationwide, our presence will surely be felt in more ways than ever before — locally, statewide and nationally.

But make no mistake about it. Everything that has been accomplished during my 29 years at the IOL was accomplished by a team. It wasn’t me. It was we, a magnificent group of doctors, psychologists, nurses, social workers, techs, administrative assistants and so many support staff who take the time to get to know our patients and treat them with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Thank you to everyone who has helped make the IOL one of the pre-eminent psychiatric centers in the country, and welcome to our new Psychiatrist-in-Chief John Santopietro, who I am confident will continue our dedication to the psychiatry profession, build the IOL’s legacy and keep the focus on our patients that we are so privileged to serve.