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Indianapolis, May 31, 2019 -- In honor of a $5 million gift from Sandy Eskenazi for mental health services, Midtown Community Mental Health, a division of Eskenazi Health, will be renamed the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center. In 1969, Eskenazi Health was the first to establish a community mental health center in Indiana and remains committed to providing mental health care to all of Central Indiana.

The Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center at Eskenazi Health welcomes patients of all ages with a philosophy of providing community-centered care and treatment by utilizing the best practices resulting from ongoing research and medical advancements.

"There is no question that recognizing the connection between physical and mental health is vital to our entire approach. And mental health has to come first. Our ability to care for individuals and our community is significantly compromised if we fail to first identify and effectively address mental health concerns," said Lisa Harris, M.D., chief executive officer of Eskenazi Health. "Sandy understands the importance of mental health care innovation and is helping to bring our vision to life."

Sandy Eskenazi is the daughter of Sidney and Lois Eskenazi, the Central Indiana couple who provided a $40 million gift to the Eskenazi Health Capital Campaign and for whom the Eskenazi Health system is named. In combination with her previous $5 million gift to the Center for Brain Care Innovation, Sandy Eskenazi has donated a total of $10 million to research and care for mental health patients suffering from anxiety and depression in Indianapolis and beyond. Sandy’s $10 million gift to support mental health care at Eskenazi Health represents the largest gift from a single donor in the state for mental health and one of the largest in the country.

"Indiana ranks 44th among states for the mental health of its adults. Thanks to the generosity of Sandy, we can start to improve those numbers, with Indianapolis leading the way in improved mental health care," said Mayor Joe Hogsett. "Sandy continues to see the need for such valuable resources and this gift will directly impact lives in our community."

In 2018 alone, there were 415,740 mental health related outpatient visits and 943 inpatient psychiatric admissions at Eskenazi Health. In addition, 26,636 individuals in Marion County were treated for mental health or substance abuse and 2,231 were specifically treated for addiction at the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center.

"Sandy is passionate about helping those with mental health issues and she is willing to make a transformative gift to support mental health and remove the stigma of philanthropy supporting this important condition," said Ernest Vargo II, CFRE, president and chief executive officer of the Eskenazi Health Foundation. "Sandy is now our second largest individual donor in the history of Eskenazi Health, and we’re so excited to see how this gift further transforms our care for the patients who need help most."

"With this gift, I hope we can continue to improve the lives of people in our community. My support will provide resources to Eskenazi Health to provide innovative ways to treat patients’ mental health, particularly those who struggle with depression and anxiety. These diseases affect people from all spectrums and all walks of life. I want patients to feel comfortable coming here and knowing they won’t only get excellent care, but the most innovative care in a compassionate and safe place," said Sandra Eskenazi. 

This gift now provides resources to Eskenazi Health to provide innovative ways to treat patients’ mental health, particularly those who struggle with depression and anxiety. Eskenazi Health has a longstanding commitment to providing mental health care as a part of its comprehensive and integrated health care delivery system. To this end, mental health services have been integrated into everyday primary care settings at Eskenazi Health, and mental health services are available in all primary care centers.

"To have someone like Sandy understand the importance of mental health care to this community and to continue to give back, time and time again, is rare. We simply could not do what we do here at Eskenazi Health without Sandy and the entire Eskenazi family," said John Thompson, chair, Eskenazi Health Foundation board of directors. 

In 2017, Eskenazi Health named the Sandra Eskenazi Outpatient Care Center in honor of Sandy’s continued support and generosity. In 2014, new state-of-the-art laser technology was made available to patients at the Richard M. Fairbanks Burn Center because of a substantial gift from Sandy.

"Throughout our history, Eskenazi Health has led the way in mental health care. We continue to be an advocate for raising awareness and reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health care," said Ashley Overley, M.D., chief executive officer of the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center. "Depression and anxiety are some of the most common mental health diagnoses. Often it is the case that individuals may experience these in addition to other mental health diagnoses. We anticipate that Sandy's gift will provide support across our programs with multiple innovative approaches."

"Governor Holcomb and our administration are committed to advancing the quality of care for Hoosiers with mental illness, but it also takes leaders in the health care community like Eskenazi Health and Sandy Eskenazi to step up and drive meaningful progress in these areas of health care that are so underserved," said Jennifer Walthall, M.D. MPH, secretary of Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. "Mental illness affects all ages and all members of families. We are grateful for Eskenazi Health’s commitment and Sandy’s generosity across our state."

"Early intervention is key to properly caring for one’s mental health," said Joyce Rogers, chairperson of the Health and Hospital Corporation board of trustees. "Sandy’s selfless gift grants us more tools and resources to make that happen. Our patients will directly feel the impact of her generosity and care, whether it’s at the center itself or in their routine primary care visits."

"I am grateful I am to be a part of an organization that puts so much time and commitment into the field of community psychiatry. Meeting our patients where they are, in their neighborhoods with early intervention services, is incredibly important. Now, more than ever, these patients need us and we are prepared to help," said Jeanne Dickens, M.D., psychiatrist at the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center. 

"This work is so important. There is serious unmet need for mental health services. Sandy’s transformative gift, supporting both care seekers and caregivers, has opened up a brighter, more optimistic future for Eskenazi Health and for our wider community," said Matthew Gutwein, president and chief executive officer of Health & Hospital Corporation. "With Sandy’s support, we see a future with fewer barriers, more acceptance and more care for our community’s most vulnerable population."

To learn more about mental health services and this landmark philanthropic gift, please visit EskenaziHealth.edu and www.EskenaziHealthFoundation.edu.

Media Contact: Todd Harper
Phone: 317.402.9327
Pager: 317.310.5972 
E-mail: todd.harper@eskenazihealth.edu 

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