conley6.gif (2529 bytes)


A beacon of hope

Photos by Matt Haas

November 2015

The new Lighthouse on Dewey serves about 700 people per week.

Once the residence of the hospitalís president, the English Tudor mansion on the campus of Aurora Psychiatric Hospital now is home to a variety of support groups.

The name says it all: Lighthouse on Dewey. "It signifies a beacon, offering a way out of addiction and substance abuse," explains Mark Palazzari, the facilityís manager.

Besides hosting 12-step meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Parents of Addicted Children, the Lighthouse also is the site of community education events. It has programming seven days a week, serving about 700 people per week. All meetings are free and open to the public.

"(Before the Lighthouse opened,) we had about 12 support groups meeting at varying times and locations," notes Palazzari. "Now, itís 30 groups and growing.

"Weíve pulled people out of some kind of dingy spaces. A closed cafeteria at 9 p.m. with the icemaker going off in the back isnít the most copacetic environment when someone is going through a hard time."

Support groups meet in any of seven rooms, including the former great room with a large, heavy conference table donated from the Foley & Lardner law offices ó staff refers to it as the "Game of Thrones" room.

Thereís also a library and a full-size kitchen, plus 85- and 40-person meeting rooms in an addition to the 1924 structure. The Lighthouse now tops out at 6,000 square feet. Renovation and construction cost $2.1 million; the facility opened about two years ago.

Auroraís 30-acre behavioral health campus, which offers both inpatient and outpatient services, sits on a bluff above Hart Park in Wauwatosa. The largest of its 14 buildings is Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

"The misconception is that people go into treatment, leave and live happily ever after," says Dr. Lance P. Longo, medical director of addiction psychiatry at the Lighthouse. "Itís all about maintenance, like for a person whoís diabetic or has any chronic illness. People with addiction benefit from being tethered to a nurturing, supportive, positive environment."

Aurora has plans to expand its services on the campus, Longo notes, because "alcohol and drug use, unfortunately, is not going to go away."


This story ran in the November 2015 issue of: