Addiction Treatment Services and Support Since 1973

Half-Way Home, Inc.

Harbor Hall initially incorporated under the name; Half-Way Home, Inc. in the fall of 1973 and opened its doors in February of 1974. The program was the brainchild of a group of local citizens, whose vision entailed setting up a half-way house for adult men, needing safe and supportive housing after completing treatment. When its doors were opened in the spring of 1974, Half-Way Home, Inc. operated from the benevolence of the community and relied heavily upon donated goods and volunteer labor to outfit, maintain and support its mission.

harbor hall residential exterior

Harbor Hall, Inc.

Over the years it evolved from a halfway house in to a long-term, residential treatment program for adult males. The name was changed to Harbor Hall, Inc. in 1984 and it continues to hold a unique place for recovery oriented treatment. Even in today’s environment of managed care and facing pressures to shorten length of stays, Harbor Hall has maintained its quality, affordability and integrity.

Elmer “Leo” Desimpel

Leo Desimpel began attending 12 Step Support groups, that were hosted by Harbor Hall, in the mid 80′s. Leo started to feel a sense of kinship, with the residents and wanted to see each and every one of them become successful. As he got more attached to the place, he developed a burning desire to get involved with the mission. Having come from a large construction firm; i.e., Walter H. Desimpel Construction Company, Leo began envisioning what he thought Harbor Hall should look like. He spent the next 25 years sharing his creativity, generosity, and compassion for people who had developed a problem with alcohol and/or drugs. He joined the Board of Directors of Harbor Hall and tirelessly worked to inspire others with his vision. Leo had a twinkle in his eye and a big heart for those less fortunate and his passion and energy were so infectious that he quickly captured and swayed others to get involved. He recruited people that make a difference in the community and they set out to acquire funding for rebuilding the entire facility, a lot of it from the ground up. The renovations of Harbor Hall would insure an organization where, adult men could get involved in their recovery with dignity, in an atmosphere of comfort and respect. Harbor Hall would not be where it’s at today without Leo’s divine purpose and calling. He was instrumental in insuring that Harbor Hall’s renovations would not require a mortgage, thereby insuring that the costs for treatment continue to remain affordable.

Leo left the Board of Harbor Hall to become the President of Harbor Hall Foundation; developed to support the mission of the organization. The Foundation is involved with fundraising, developing capital campaigns for program growth and expansion, insuring an endowment fund for financial support, etc. Leo remained President of the Board of Directors of Harbor Hall Foundation for the remainder of his life.

elmer lee desimpel portrait
harbor hall interior stairway

Evolution of A Continuum of Care

During the mid 90’s, when renovations were nearing completion, the Board of Directors contracted with Hazelden to evaluate every part of the program. The Board hired a new executive director in November of 1990, as a result of the consultant’s recommendations. At the time, Harbor Hall’s primary mission was to provide treatment for chemically dependent, adult men. The new CEO contracted with Recovery Dynamics to train the clinical staff in a model of treatment based upon recovery oriented systems of care. The training guaranteed that a consistent model of treatment would be delivered by all staff, insuring that residents would be well grounded in recovery principles and practices. Once the renovations were completed and the program stabilized, Harbor Hall opened a sober living residence in 1991 for graduates of the residential program. The house consisted of six beds and a live-in supervisor. The residents committed to a six month length of stay and were required to attend weekly continuing care groups, that taught Stage II recovery skills. These skills were necessary to help individuals develop a lifestyle centered on recovery. Research had shown that most men coming to our long-term residential program had a long term history of drug and/or alcohol use. The average age, which many of our residents started using drugs and/or alcohol was 11 and the average age they entered Harbor Hall was 32. Many of our residents needed to learn skills that other people took for granted. These skills included setting up a budget, managing a checking account, forming credit, forming sober recreation/leisure activities, developing a sober support network, etc. The ability to remain for six months to one year has helped many men to develop a lasting commitment to ongoing recovery. It is magical when we can see a resident truly reshape their life and to know that we gave them the time necessary to make these changes in their lives. We supported the model so highly that the Foundation purchased another house so we could accommodate six more residents.

Core Clinical Practices

During our growth there are four components of our program that has set us apart from other programs. The clinical steps noted here are core beliefs of Harbor Hall. We believe they are essential in helping residents to establish meaningful recovery. We also believe that our outcomes would suffer with out the availability of each one of these core programs:

  1. In 1990, Harbor Hall hired the services of a priest to be a spiritual director. We developed an assessment that focused solely on spirituality and any blocks that might interfere with resident’s development in this area. Spiritual blocks could entail morbid grief through death that the client had never worked through; past trauma from physical, mental, sexual abuse, or other trauma related issues; resentments over religious upbringing or other resentments, etc. This assessment is added to the Master Assessment of the resident and incorporated in their treatment plan. Our view of spirituality is the deep human connection that is formed that allows us to bond and connect with each other. This ability helps in asking for help and support from others; vital in developing a support network for maintaining recovery. The spiritual director position has been a part of our treatment team since 1990. We have hired different spiritual counselors, from different denominations, since our initial hire.
  2. Harbor Hall hired a continuing care coordinator in 1991. This position is part of the clinical team and begins assessing each resident from Day 1; focusing solely on the development of a continuing care plan. The plans are developed, utilizing the Psych-Social Assessment and an Identified Problem List. The Problem list reports all of the issues that were formed from the assessment and they are ranked in level of importance, whether they are worked on while in treatment and which issues will be deferred to the continuing care plan. After the issues are incorporated in the continuing care plan, living arrangements are written on the plan along with relapse triggers, what support network they will be developing, who is going to be their sponsor, etc. After the continuing care program is resolved, all appointments are made, transportation is prearranged, referents are notified and sent a copy of the plan. We have a 97% – 100% transfer rate to the next level of care. Follow-up calls are made to insure they went and referents are notified if there are no-shows to the appointments. This position also facilitates continuing care groups for local residents and graduates attend weekly continuing care groups that are hosted on-site. This position also teaches sober living skills, during the required weekly meetings that occur for residents in the sober living houses.
  3. Recreational Therapist. Harbor Hall utilizes the services of a recreational/leisure therapist. We complete a recreation/leisure assessment of all residents going through treatment and any issues are incorporated into the treatment plan. The recreational/leisure therapist sets up all recreation activities and focuses on team building activities which get the residents working together. This helps them to start developing support networks to maintain ongoing recovery. Also, we believe it is difficult to develop ongoing recovery if you do not learn how to have fun in sobriety.
  4. Medical Director. Harbor Hall has utilized the services of a medical director since 1992, when we set up our outpatient program. During the early days it was to work with the Health Professionals Recovery Program that was started twenty years ago when our first outpatient program opened its doors. The responsibilities expanded at the beginning of offering detox services in 1996 where physicals were required for detox residents. The physician also established detox protocols for each admission and supervised the staff that carried out their orders. The medical services expanded several years ago when residents began entering treatment with more medical concerns and complaints. We knew residents would not be successful if their medical concerns were not addressed so, we incorporated medical care within our residential program. We have become incorporated with primary health for several years prior to the initiation of the Affordable Care Act and this continues to be important as we evolve our services in to the future.

Outpatient Services as Part of the Continuum of Care

Harbor Hall approached the director of behavioral health services, at Northern Michigan Hospital, to start an outpatient program in 1992. Our goal was to broaden our treatment services to men and women, adolescent through senior citizens as; Harbor Hall had been exclusively for men and offered long-term residential treatment. Our goal was to expand our services to provide an entire continuum of care. Our initial partnership consisted of a relationship between Burns Clinic, Northern Michigan Hospital and Harbor Hall. Burns Clinic lent physician Dr. Richard Wakulat, who became our medical director for many years. Northern Michigan Hospital provided space at the Lockwood/McDonald campus, covered our overhead, provided billing services and a management partnership with the director of behavioral health services. This relationship lasted until Harbor Hall went off on its own in 2000. Harbor Hall Foundation built a facility to house our Petoskey Outpatient Program and we moved there in November 2008.

Detoxification Services

Harbor Hall started to provide detoxification services in 1996, under the medical supervision of Dr. Richard Wakulat. We employed a sub-acute model of detoxification and Dr. Wakulat developed an algorithm questionnaire to determine the ability to admit to our detox program or, to make a referral to an acute care setting. In the initial years of providing detox services, Harbor Hall admitted residents needing to be withdrawn from alcohol. In the year 2000, we started to see a lot of residents needing to be detoxed from prescription drugs. Opiates have become one of our biggest problems to deal with in the State of Michigan and we have established opiate withdrawal protocols. Since the start of offering detox services Harbor Hall has detoxified many men from the use of mood altering chemicals and set them on the path to ongoing recovery.

New Director of Clinical Operations

Patrick McGinn came on board in 1999 as the Director of Clinical Operations. Pat had served for 22 years in the United States Navy and went through the Counselor Training Program of the US Navy. He had completed a Master’s Degree in Human Resources and a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. Pat is trained in EMDR, Motivational Interviewing and other therapies that enhance resident’s treatment experiences. With Pat’s presence, this has given Harbor Hall an opportunity to focus on advocacy efforts at the state level and to be involved in other areas important for the ongoing development of our services.

Dr. Wakulat retired several years ago and Dr. Guy Golembiewski came on board as our medical director. After Pat came on board, Harbor Hall formed a prevention division so that we could go in to the school settings and help prevent students from becoming involved with mood altering chemicals. Shortly after developing our prevention division, Pat worked hard to open an outpatient program in Cheboygan, Michigan that continues to operate to this day. Pat continually strives to develop the clinical team so that it is focused on the primary mission of Harbor Hall: To provide professional treatment and guidance for individuals and families with substance use disorder issues. The clinical team is continually attending state of the art workshops, honing their skills so that they can work effectively with the populations that encompass the many services that are provided by Harbor Hall.

The Passing of a Legacy

Leo Desimple passed away May 22, 2007, leaving a legacy with the modern and comfortable facility in which residents are treated with dignity and respect to the development of the Harbor Hall Foundation, which exists to provide financial support to Harbor Hall, Inc. He left behind a loving family that are assured his legacy lives on from the caring and professional staff to the Board of Directors of Harbor Hall, Inc. and Harbor Hall Foundation. We are eternally grateful for his passion and energy that made Harbor Hall what it is today.

The team of dedicated professionals that make up the Board of Directors and the staff are what insures that Harbor Hall will continue its mission in providing quality substance use disorder treatment services.

From its humble beginnings, Harbor Hall has continued to carefully assess and expand its services by being responsive to what is needed in Northern Michigan. We are always asking ourselves what we can do better, how we can be more efficient and effective, how can we demonstrate better outcomes.

The Future

If you ask what’s changing at Harbor Hall, stay tuned… Photos Circa 1974: