everything we experience that often makes these
programs ineffective for the alpha-minded men
and women of the fire service who seek their help.
And when these programs fail to help, the behavior
continues to devolve and leads to career-ending
decisions that become even more ruinous for the
firefighter. This is where the Rosecrance-Florian
Program comes in.
A CONVERSATION WITH DAN DEGRYSE
I had the opportunity to discuss the Rosecrance
Florian Program with its founder, Battalion Chief
Dan DeGryse of the Chicago (IL) Fire Department,
and asked him to answer a few questions about the
program and its benefits to firefighters.
Erich Roden: Give an overview of the Florian
program, its impetus and makeup.
Dan DeGryse: The Rosecrance Florian Program
serves firefighters, paramedics, and other fire service
members, offering the best opportunity for lasting
recovery for co-occurring substance use and mental
health disorders by incorporating occupational
factors into the treatment process. Florian was
the first program in the country dedicated to and
specializing in helping fire service members who
need substance abuse treatment and who also need
care for job-related post-traumatic stress disorder
(PTSD), anxiety, depression, and other behavioral
Florian is housed in a designated coed unit at
the Rosecrance Harrison Campus in Rockford,
Illinois, which offers a full continuum of residential and outpatient services. Florian clients benefit
by having services tailored to the needs of people
who experience ongoing exposure to trauma,
access to chaplains and other staff with military
and firefighting experience, and relationships with
peer support volunteers from the Illinois Firefighters Peer Support network and a community
of firefighters. When clients’ treatment on the
Florian unit concludes, Rosecrance offers comprehensive, individualized discharge planning to
provide a smooth transition to aftercare services in
the clients’ own communities.
Rosecrance also has a well-established family
program that takes place every weekend. Family
members are invited and encouraged to attend two
days of family education, which includes information about addiction and how substance abuse is a
family disease. Scheduled family sessions that help
with the transition of returning home, maintaining
boundaries, and repairing relationships damaged by
addiction are an integral part of treatment.
Roden: Tell us about yourself and your inspiration for establishing the Rosecrance Florian
DeGryse: Florian is led by me, an active-duty
battalion chief/EMT with 27 years of experience
with the Chicago Fire Department. I am a certified
employee assistance professional and a certified
alcohol and drug abuse counselor. I spent 14 years
as the coordinator of the Chicago Firefighters
Union Local 2 Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
and developed a working relationship with Rosecrance during that time. I studied the suicide rate
within the Chicago Fire Department, which experienced 52 firefighter suicides in 25 years. Although
many people who die by suicide have substance use
and mental health disorders, little has been known
about firefighter suicides specifically. That’s what
led me to Rosecrance and its clinical team to try
to better understand and address behavioral health
within the fire service.
I approached Rosecrance President/CEO Phil
Eaton in 2013 about tailoring a program specifically for the fire service, and Phil welcomed the
challenge. Florian—named for the patron saint of
firefighters—was developed with the help of Dr.
Raymond Garcia, medical director at the Rosecrance Harrison Campus, who also has experience
treating first responders. We gathered a 12-member
panel of experienced firefighters and fire personnel
from across the country to advise us and welcomed
our first client in August 2014.
Roden: What are the services provided?
DeGryse: Florian clients stay an average of 35
days on the unit and receive core services including physician care; on-site detoxification with
medication assistance; comprehensive psychiatric
evaluations; individual, group, and family counseling; peer support groups; counseling sessions with
a certified chaplain; experiential therapies that
Battilion Chief Dan DeGryse
of the Chicago (IL) Fire
Department, founder of the
Rosecrance Florian Program.
(Photo by Ethan Loomis.)
Dan DeGryse: “The Rosecrance Florian Program serves firefighters, paramedics, and other fire service members, offering the
best opportunity for lasting recovery for co-occurring substance
use and mental health disorders by incorporating occupational
factors into the treatment process.” (Photo by Ethan Loomis.)