March 31, 2023

A New Chapter for Walden Sierra

Several changes have occurred at Walden Sierra this summer, changes representing the latest in the organization’s ongoing strategic response to community needs.

Walden Sierra’s long-serving 24-hour hotline will sunset as the jurisdictional responsibility for crisis and trauma services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes moves to the Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence.

Family ViolenceWalden Sierra team members will form the core professional group of crisis counselors providing services at the St. Mary’s County branch of Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence’s Leonardtown office. Walden (Pyramid Walden LLC) will continue to deliver an ever-expanding continuum of care for community members impacted by behavioral health concerns.

In addition, Kathleen O’Brien, Walden’s longtime chief executive officer, will launch Walden Wise.

“Walden Wise is the culmination of many years of thought around how I can bring the growing body of scientific knowledge about brain-based illnesses to light. The treatment community at large, policy makers, and the public need access to the research available about how to understand and help heal the suffering created by substance use disorders and other brain-based illnesses,” explains Dr. O’Brien.

The Walden Wise initiative will be spearheaded by Walden Sierra, a 501c3 serving Southern Maryland for nearly 45 years. The foundation intends to work with researchers to disseminate findings that will improved the practice of addiction treatment and further break down the stigma for those suffering from substance use disorder and their families.

Mid-Shore Council on Family Violence opened its Leonardtown office to serve St. Mary’s County in July 2019.

Community members can expect the same community outreach, crisis response, and victim sheltering, crisis counseling, and referral to community supports as Walden Sierra provided.

“In fact, the members of Walden Sierra’s crisis and trauma counseling team will simply now be working for Mid-Shore,” Dr. O’Brien says.

In addition to retaining the strong emphasis on trauma education and counseling that has long been a hallmark of Walden Sierra’s victim services programs, Mid-Shore also offers an economic empowerment focus for victims of abuse. As Mid-Shore brings its own hotline service to crisis response, Walden Sierra is in a position to sunset the hotline operated in St. Mary’s County for decades.

“We are so very grateful to the St. Mary’s County commissioners for their support of the Walden hotline all these years. We are confident that the commissioners will be able to redirect those funds previously dedicated to the hotline to other emergent community needs,” Dr. O’Brien says.

Walden will continue to move forward as a Maryland leader in substance use disorder treatment and recovery support.

Since Pyramid Healthcare’s acquisition of Walden Sierra in October 2018, Pyramid Walden (doing business still as Walden) has been hard at work bringing even more “help for today hope for tomorrow” to Southern Maryland.

“In the midst of the ongoing opioid addiction health crisis throughout the state, we are pleased to report expanded access to Walden’s continuum of care in Southern Maryland, particularly within our residential treatment programs,” Dr. O’Brien says. “We are also responding to opportunities to replicate thoughtfully our unique brand of service delivery in other communities who are seeking a similar service continuum around the state.”

Several key steps have taken place to enhance Walden’s ability to serve those most in need.

In all, Walden has served over 500 adolescents and adults, on average, monthly since October 2018. Walden has increased the number of beds available in the Anchor/Charlotte Hall inpatient treatment facility by almost 20%.  An enhanced access/admissions team approach, complete with transportation to and from the inpatient treatment levels of care, has opened the doors for more rapid access, often same day, to treatment for those with the most severe symptoms of substance use disorder. In addition, Walden has initiated an expansion of programming at its transitional treatment campus in California, MD.

Walden’s outpatient treatment and recovery support services continue to deliver a number of options for community-based behavioral health care. Outpatient sites in Lexington Park, Charlotte Hall, and Waldorf provide substance use disorder outpatient and intensive outpatient options along with mental health and medication assisted treatment for clients of our substance use programs.

The Beacon of Hope Recovery Community Center and The Cove/DFZ adolescent clubhouse both continue to deliver a range of individual and group services related to supporting the process of healthy change. Beacon of Hope will hold its annual International Overdose Awareness Day event on Aug. 31.

To speak with Walden’s leadership, contact Laura Stewart Webb at [email protected] or 301-997-1300, ext. 804 or Betsy Lenhart-Cooksey at [email protected] or 301-997-1300, ext. 805.

New Hotline # 1-800-927-4673

Leave A Comment