New Executive Team Leads Efforts

KidsPeace announced today that it is undergoing a transformation of its structure and programs to optimize care for the children and families it serves by positioning itself ahead of the ever-changing health care industry.

Launching initially in its Pennsylvania hospital and residential care facilities in Orefield and Bethlehem, the transformation will eventually take place in KidsPeace programs in the other 11 states where it delivers services.

The 128-year-old healthcare organization will move from utilizing a behavioral care model to a clinical care model, enabling teams of medical professionals to not only treat behaviors, but to research and treat the source of why the behaviors are taking place.

Focusing on the strength and resilience of clients and families, KidsPeace is committed to the use of evidence-based clinical practices to foster a continuous learning cycle, building upon family and community supports. Treatment involves active engagement of and direction by the client, family and community mentors and is delivered by a team including psychiatrists, social workers, mental health nurses, expressive therapists, educators and childcare counselors.

“This is a process of redefining the way we provide support and treatment to the children, young adults and families in our care,” explains William Isemann, KidsPeace President and CEO. “This new well integrated, multidisciplinary approach will incorporate the highest levels of performance in safety, outcomes, customer service, initiative, staff competency, structure and communication.”

KidsPeace operates an 80-bed psychiatric hospital and residential facilities for 288 children from 6 to 21-years of age at its Orefield and Bethlehem campuses. The process began within the hospital and is rolling out to the residential programs over the next few months.

To achieve this approach to care, KidsPeace is establishing a new framework whereby a five-person, multi-disciplinary professional team will be on site where the child is living to provide a therapeutic community.

Susan Mullen, Vice President for PA Residential and Hospital Programs, says the new approach requires clinical expertise, intellectual curiosity and an interest in evidence-based outcomes and treatment.

“Within the therapeutic environment, we will provide childcare counselors, creative therapists, registered nurses and social workers, to deliver care driven by needs of the client and their families and integrating community supports under the guidance of a psychiatrist,” Mullen said. “Through a therapeutic alliance with the client and family, a treatment plan is developed drawing upon the client’s natural supports promoting successful progression to a lesser level of care and return to family and community support systems as soon as possible.”

Mullen, who holds an undergraduate degree in education from Virginia Intermont College and a master’s in healthcare administration from Bellevue University, is also a registered nurse. Leading a newly appointed program team that is managing the transformation and care going forward, Mullen has more than 13 years experience with KidsPeace.

Barbara A. Hacker, RN, Med, NHA, CPHRM, has been named Executive Director of KidsPeace Psychiatric Hospital and PA Nursing Services. Hacker, who formerly served as chief of hospital operations at St. John Vianney Center, Downingtown, holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from Temple University. She also attended the Wharton School of Business for financial management for nurse executives and is a certified Polaris, Inc. national health care consultant and seminar speaker. Hacker also formerly served as Vice President of Clinical Services at both Lehigh Valley Hospital Center and the Albert Einstein Medical Center.

Brian Hemmert, MS, has been appointed the Executive Director of PA Residential and Education Programs. Hemmert, who most recently served as CEO of the Jefferson Trail Treatment Center, Charlottesville, VA, received his under- and post-graduate degrees from the University of Dayton. He has extensive experience in program design and oversight and is a strong advocate of family involvement and child centered strength-based programming.

Gloria Ritacco-Stewart, MSW, has been named Director of Clinical Consultative Services. With experience in outpatient, inpatient and partial hospital settings, Ritacco-Stewart’s most recent position was Director of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Outpatient Department for Trinitas Hospital, Elizabeth, NJ. She holds an undergraduate degree from Trenton State College and a Master’s in social work from Rutgers University.

About KidsPeace

Founded in 1882, KidsPeace is dedicated to serving the behavioral and mental health needs of children, preadolescents, teens and young adults, offering a comprehensive range of residential treatment programs; accredited educational services; and a variety of foster care and community-based treatment programs to give hope, help and healing to children, families and communities. KidsPeace offers services in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Joint Commission accredits KidsPeace programs in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Educational accreditations include the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools and the Commission on International and Trans-Regional Accreditation.