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New venture north of Chicago will first target troubled adolescents

June 2, 2016
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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A medical director and executive who earned a national reputation for delivering integrated behavioral health, eating disorders and trauma care at Timberline Knolls in Illinois now has her sights set on making a difference in her home community, with adolescents the initial focus.

Kimberly Dennis, MD, and her husband have launched SunCloud Health in Highland Park, Ill., a North Shore suburb of Chicago. The organization has begun offering outpatient services and over the course of the year will add intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization tracks. SunCloud Health will aim its first efforts at assisting young people in a community where parents serving alcohol to minors, and high schoolers hosting pill parties, has become ingrained.

“It will probably be easier to treat patients than to effect a culture change,” says Dennis, a 2013 recipient of an Outstanding Clinician Award from Addiction Professional. She adds, “There are parents also with sub-clinical mental health and substance abuse issues, or full problems that have gone unaddressed.”

Dennis says Timberline Knolls has been extremely supportive of her desire to identify a work opportunity closer to home and in the process to fulfill, as she stated in a news release announcing SunCloud Health's opening, “the great need for a center geared toward treating the many patients who don't fit nicely into one little diagnostic box.” Over the past few months she has retained an emeritus role at Timberline Knolls, which earlier this year hired William Parsons (formerly of Vanderbilt University Medical Center) as its new CEO.

Dennis says SunCloud Health will serve a combination of self-pay and insured patients. Private financing is paving the way for the new venture.

Intervening early

Dennis says that while there is great pressure within the industry to serve more people on an outpatient basis, the effort at SunCloud centers on early intervention. “It's easier to treat someone who has been sick for three to six months than for 10 years,” she says.

SunCloud also will emphasize an effort to partner with primary care physicians intent on changing prescribing patterns that have exacerbated substance use problems in the community, Dennis says.

She says the name for the organization came from what her stepdaughter, then 5, called the colorful clouds she saw on a family vacation in Grand Cayman. Dennis considers the name a good fit for what she is trying to accomplish with patients who have lost hope. “People are focused in the clouds and see no sun beyond,” she says.

SunCloud's intensive outpatient track is scheduled for an August opening, Dennis says, with the partial hospitalization program to launch in December.

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