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World-class behavioral health care in Summit County

Integrated behavioral health services into all care

First in the world to recognize addiction as a disease

National leader in the treatment of traumatic stress

Innovative approaches to patient care

Help us build today for always

For more than 125 years, Summa Health has delivered on its promise of providing the highest quality care to all those in need, regardless of their ability to pay. Thousands of people have turned to Summa for the successful restoration of their physical health through the treatment and management of diseases of every description.

For more than 80 years, Summa has earned the confidence of those who have experienced healing from addiction and other behavioral health disorders. Others have found help for traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions that touch nearly everyone.

While some regional health systems have reduced their commitment to mental health and addiction treatment, Summa has strengthened the resources it devotes to both – an initiative that is unique among Northeast Ohio health systems. Summa’s commitment to provide behavioral and mental healthcare stands alone in size and scope in addressing the needs of the population it serves.

Today, Summa Health builds on that legacy with the construction of a new, 60-bed inpatient and outpatient Behavioral Health Pavilion on the Akron Campus. This new facility is the capstone of Summa’s commitment to caring for the whole person through a comprehensive, collaborative approach that integrates behavioral healthcare into the full spectrum of health services.

It’s more than an investment in bricks and mortar. It’s an investment in the economy of our region. It’s an investment in improving the overall health of the communities we serve. And, it’s an investment in the future of Summa Health.

"As the largest private employer in Summit County, we're excited to help shape the future of healthcare in our region and are thankful for the support of our community, our Summa patients, SummaCare members, business leaders and elected officials."

Cliff Deveny, M.D., President and Chief Executive Officer

World-class behavioral health care in Summit County

A resource for the region’s employers 

In the United States today, workers struggling with mental health disorders account for $483 billion to $605 billion a year in lost productivity. When employees don’t show up for work, 62 percent of the time it is because of a mental health issue, a major problem for any large employer with pharmaceuticals related to behavioral issues at the top of employer-provided healthcare costs. Serious mental illness causes $193.2 billion in lost earnings each year.

A resource to improve the health of the communities we serve through population health management

Summa Health provides compassionate, comprehensive behavioral healthcare to an average of 3,597 inpatients and 4,894 outpatients annually. In addition, 1,890 patients are treated annually in our Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospitalization programs.

An investment in the future of Summa Health

The new Behavioral Health Pavilion on the Akron Campus is designed specifically for Summa’s integrated state-of-the-art model that allows for layers of care of mental health patients: hospitalization with single-occupancy rooms, partial in-patient care and group counseling. The pavilion will become home base for a model that integrates therapists into primary care providers’ offices throughout the region.

Sources: Crain’s Cleveland Business, National Alliance on Mental Illness

John DiSabato, M.D., chair of the Summa Health Department of Family Medicine, introduces a patient to Brianna Deetz, a behavioral health consultant working at the Family Medicine Center.

"This new facility ensures that all patients who turn to us in their time of need have the best patient experience, every time. It is what our patients want and what they deserve. And, it allows behavioral health to properly integrate with the rest of our medical services -- taking care of the whole patient."

Joseph D. Varley, M.D., chair, Department of Psychiatry

Integrated behavioral health services into all care

Summa Health’s population health strategy requires us to look at the whole person when treating a patient, and this new Behavioral Health Pavilion gets to the heart of
that practice. Its location on the Akron Campus connects patients and providers to the full range of medical services needed for lifelong care.

Integration of services:

  • Allows Summa Health to provide patients with the highest quality medical and behavioral healthcare
  • Serves as an optimal location for facilitating consultation among professionals in providing comprehensive multidisciplinary patient care
  • Allows behavioral health staff to be present in the medical community on the Akron Campus and the opportunity for integration of patient care and collaboration with professionals in training

Teaching the next generation

Summa’s tradition of teaching the next generation of physicians and nurses is ingrained in the system’s history and is at the foundation of its national reputation for education excellence. Summa offers a fellowship in addiction medicine and a residency in psychiatry, where more than 160 new psychiatrists have trained since 1986.

Summa has earned a reputation for its humanistic, holistic approach to patient care. Medical students are exposed to psychiatric medicine regardless of their eventual choice of specialty and learn how behavioral health impacts many medical specialties. The new Behavioral Health Pavilion on the Akron Campus will add spaces for teaching that do not exist presently.

Summa’s existing programs with schools of nursing at the University of Akron, Kent State University and Walsh University include programmed rotations of students through behavioral health – a service to nursing students that is provided in the community only by Summa Health.

"Bless me with another day of sobriety. To live happy, joyous and free."

Anonymous message of a visitor to the chapel of St. Thomas Hospital, where Sister Mary Ignatia worked

First in the world to recognize addiction as a disease

St. Thomas Hospital opened its doors in 1928, operated by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. Eleven years after its opening, Sister Mary Ignatia Gavin started an alcoholic ward – the first in the nation – embracing what few in the medical profession were willing to acknowledge – that alcoholism was a disease and could be treated in a hospital setting.

With “Dr. Bob” Smith, an Akron City Hospital physician, who with Bill Wilson and Henrietta Seiberling created the founding principles of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron in 1935, nearly 5,000 alcoholics from all over the U.S. and even foreign countries would be admitted to St. Thomas for treatment of alcohol addiction by 1950.

St. Thomas is a special place in the AA movement. As St. Thomas Hospital is vacated, the relics important to AA will be relocated to new sacred space within the new Behavioral Health Pavilion.

First step to recovery

Ten minutes. That’s all the time it takes for opiate-addicted patients to change their minds about taking the first step to recovery. Helping them in the emergency department and following through with wraparound services after they take that first step could mean the difference between life and death.

When the nation struggled with a tsunami of opiate addictions in 2018, Summa Health initiated First Step, an innovative approach to treatment on the Barberton Campus. It recognized that medication for opioid use disorder was most effective when combined with continuing care beyond the Emergency Department. To that end, Summa established an addiction collaborative with multiple service organizations throughout Summit County and hired an addiction care coordinator to help patients access the services they needed.

The success of First Step warranted its expansion to the Akron Campus in 2019. From June 2018 to August 2020, Summa caregivers and community partners provided more than 2,500 patient evaluations through the First Step program.

"As a result of 40 years of anger, and frustration, and suicidal thoughts that I brought home from Vietnam, I knew I needed help. When I arrived at Summa St. Thomas, I was emotionally devastated. Summa treated me like a human being. I was born at Summa St. Thomas Hospital, and I was re-born there through the help of Dr. Palmieri and Summa St. Thomas' Traumatic Stress Center. The greatest thing for me was my realization that my life did have value and that my family was important to me. That program saved my life. There is no doubt in my mind about it. I would not be around today had it not been for Summa's post-traumatic stress program."

Tom Saal, Traumatic Stress Center patient, pictured above with Patrick Palmieri, Ph.D., director of the Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center

National leader in the treatment of traumatic stress

Since 2002, the Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center has won regional, national and international acclaim for its advancement of the science regarding traumatic stress and its impact on the well-being of people affected by traumatic events. Recent innovations include the use of telehealth treatments for post-traumatic stress. The future implementation of virtual reality simulators will expand and enhance the services available to help military veterans treated at Summa’s Traumatic Stress Center.

Trauma comes in many forms. In addition to military combat, it could be a car crash, a sexual assault, childhood abuse and neglect, or other highly stressful experiences. Incomplete emotional processing of the traumatic experience can result in chronic post-traumatic stress. With the right treatment and support, trauma-related problems are manageable.

The Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center is committed to restoring patients to a full, productive life and to training healthcare professionals in providing trauma-informed care.

"Being provided a safe place to express feelings is one of the many facets of dealing with my mental health issues. Therapy provided that space. In it, I learned to believe I was valued and not invisible. I was given a voice, and my art is an expression of voicing visibility and freedom."

Beverly Ball, patient whose artwork is featured above

Innovative approaches to patient care

Since the mid-20th century, the treatment of mental illness has relied heavily on the use of pharmaceuticals. While medications continue to be prescribed where appropriate, patients at Summa Health benefit from trained therapists who utilize unstructured dialogue as a tool to “hear” the patient and encourage humane approaches that can achieve transformational change in behavior.

Summa’s treatments also include art, music and nutrition. Music therapy often can alter a body’s physiology, lowering blood pressure, improving stress management, curbing anxiety and depression,  alleviating pain, enhancing memory, and accelerating the production of proteins that promote healing.

The “Music and Mental Health” program, offered in partnership with the Akron Symphony Orchestra, brings professional musicians to perform concerts that engage patients and encourage better communication with clinicians.

The use of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped expand access to safe, effective behavioral healthcare in a way that has also been shown to
reduce stigma.

At the heart of every treatment are relationship building and support. When patients feel respected, acknowledged and cared for, they improve more readily.

Patients listen to music as part of Summa Health's Music Therapy Program.

"Join us as we move forward deeply committed to honoring the ideals that have driven our mission for more than a century. We look forward to working together with you to improve the health of our community."

Phylis Ferrara, President, Summa Foundation, and Chief Development Officer, Summa Health

Help us build today for always

We're ready to build on our legacy of caring for Greater Akron and our neighbors throughout Northeast Ohio.

The strong foundation that began with the wisdom of our founding benefactors Thomas W. Cornell, O.C. Barber, Charles Deering and Boniface DeRoo has provided a strong platform for 125 years of progress.

Their vision of providing the highest quality care to all those in need, regardless of their ability to pay, has touched countless lives and contributed to the greater good.

Their generosity and wisdom are reflected in the visionary leadership of so many families and individuals in our community who have given generously over decades of growth to ensure this legacy of care continues.

How will you participate in this century-long journey of continuous innovation and growth? Your gift can support a program or service that is especially meaningful to your family. Or, you can address an immediate need of the Behavioral Health Institute.

Summa partners with hundreds of individuals each year who want their gift to recognize a respected physician, honor a caring healthcare provider or memorialize a loved one.

All gifts help Summa Health provide the highest quality, compassionate care now and always – and build on Summa Health’s legacy of caring for the whole you.

Call the Summa Foundation at 330.375.3159 to learn more about how you can establish a lasting legacy of caring at Summa Health..