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Our Admissions and Intake Process

From initial phone call through admission, how our process works. One step at a time.

The SunCloud Health Step by Step Intake Process

At SunCloud we try to answer the real question as to why our patients are engaging in self destructive behaviors, namely, “Why the pain?”

If we can help answer that question, we are then able to work on the underlying cause(s) of the disease. With this we can help stop not only the self destructive behavior but also lead our patients in to a life of freedom and long term recovery.

We believe in treating our patients and their families first and foremost as human beings, who courageously come to us in pain and often times in shame, seeking help and support. We want our patients to know there is hope and that you are not alone in your struggle.

Patients have many options from which to choose and very little data they can use to make those decisions. Our goal at SunCloud is for each individual to receive care from the program that will serve them best. That’s why we admit less than 50 percent of those who complete our intake process. This is far from the norm. Many programs routinely admit people on the day they first meet them, knowing little about past and current treatment, duration and extent of the disease, or the specific needs of the individual. We do not. In fact, it may take a couple of days to determine whether we are the best fit. If a person does not have a high chance of benefiting from our treatment model, we will refer elsewhere.

How do I determine if SunCloud Health Is a Good Treatment Fit For Me?

Step One

Step Two

The first point of contact you will have when you contact SunCloud Health is a compassionate professional whose main job is to ensure your initial questions are answered through a step by step counseling process and that you understand who we are and what we do. We know our patients have many options from which to choose and very little data which they can use to make those decisions. We aim to help prospective patients find the right fit at the right time, even if it means they never set foot in one of our facilities. We accomplish this with our proven counseling intake interview questions. Though many of our patients are referred by fellow professionals, they still want to hear for themselves whether or not we feel SunCloud might be a good fit for themselves or a loved one and if so what the counseling process is and what they should expect.


Dr. Kimberly Dennis, MD, Medical Director, CEO and Co-founder at SunCloud Health provides an example of why SCH not be the ideal fit for every patient.

We know what we do well and don’t do as well. In this call we will listen to you, ask relevant questions and help make sure you are heading down an appropriate path. An initial phone call can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour. We are never in a rush, as this first call is often incredibly hard for our patients to make. It takes a lot of courage to reach out for help. When people do this, we believe they deserve as much time and attention as we can give them.


Mike Mehta, DO, MBA, Psychiatrist, listen to a message from one of our doctors helping you understand the first step toward getting help.

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By the end of this initial first contact you should have a good feeling as to whether or not SunCloud is a viable options worth pursuing. If so, we will suggest you come in for an intake evaluation. If not, hopefully we have been able to refer you to a facility or a therapist who can help, or at least we helped you think through the options.


Anjali Khanna, Administrative Assistant, at SunCloud Health On the Joy of Watching Patients’ Journey from the First Day.

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What can I expect when I call SunCloud Health? Here is a little history on the guy who answers most of the incoming calls.

“Taking these calls doesn’t feel like a ‘job’ and I am honored to make the time to do so.” David Newton, MBA, Director of Operations and Co-founder of SunCloud Health. Read More

What is covered during the SunCloud Health intake process?

The confidential intake process is our opportunity to perform a comprehensive bio-psycho-social evaluation in order to determine qualitatively what we feel is going on and whether or not we feel SunCloud offers what you need. We prefer to do this in person at one of our offices. However, for those currently at the hospital or in residential in need of a step-down plan prior to discharge, we can do these over the phone. The process usually takes about 1.5 hours and all of our intakes are done by trained licensed therapists who follow very specific placement criteria designed by ASAM (Addiction Society of Medicine) and required by The Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (DASA), The Joint Commission and the various insurance companies with whom we have contracts. The intake process is also an opportunity for you to ask more questions and share your thoughts on your goals, objectives, obstacles and possible fears of treatment. Though this is medical treatment, this medicine is nuanced in that you must feel safe with us in order for our work to be successful. During the intake we may ask for you to sign a release to allow us to talk with a family member, a therapist you may be seeing and or your primary care doc. so that we can gather more useful information possibly needed in determining an appropriate care plan. The information gathered in the intake is then submitted to our medical team for final evaluation at which point a recommendation is given to you. It is important for all prospective patients to know that we will never recommend beyond but what is clinically appropriate. This always means your interests come before ours and it sometimes means we will not be able to accommodate your request. We always want to try and meet our patients where they are at and many times we agree that some treatment is better than no treatment. However, this is very different than agreeing to whatever our patients want regardless of what our medical team feels is appropriate. Hopefully this brings you comfort knowing that the recommendation from us will truly be one that is what we feel would be best for you. What to bring- Yourself, your insurance card and your identification. And a willingness to share and be honest… That’s it!

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What can I expect, and how can I prepare for Day One at SunCloud Health?

Day one in treatment starts with checking in with the same therapist who did your intake so as to give you a familiar face when you arrive. We will review the day’s schedule, assign you a “buddy” for the first few days, and introduce you to your primary therapist who has been assigned to you. We will review your insurance benefits if we have not done so already, discuss our expectations of you, your expectations with us and generally just make sure you are comfortable and settling in. The first day can sometimes feel overwhelming or a bit clunky. This is normal! We will do everything we can to make sure you are comfortable, that you know where to go and when and that you begin to acclimate in a way that feels safe for you.

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Is SunCloud Health a good fit for you? Our comprehensive admission process is just the beginning.

We live in a world defined by immediacy. People know what they want and they want it “right now.” This necessity for quick answers and rapid results has metastasized into the field of behavioral health, which often results in the following scenario. 

A person recognizes that some sort of therapy or treatment is needed. Understandably and in part because of the lack of standardized outcome measurements, this individual is not sophisticated as to what quality of care actually means or what type of treatment is required.   Enter, the ever over-utilized internet search.  A program that seems right is located and a phone call is made. Typically, in this short conversation, benefits are verified and an in-person appointment is scheduled. 

At this 30-to-60 minute intake meeting, a self-history is provided to a therapist.  Recognizing that a commitment to treatment can be fleeting, and without consulting anyone outside of that room, a qualitative and quantitative recommendation is often made by the therapist right then and there.   The person can enter the program as early as the very next day. 

Naturally, the pending patient is delighted—the entire process was quick and fairly painless. Unfortunately, this lack of information gathering is inadequate and can prove deleterious to the person in need. 

Consider this question: in what other area of medicine is a diagnosis and course of treatment made immediately and unilaterally without additional clinical information such as labs or tests and made  solely on self-reported information?  

The answer is simple:  there is none—it doesn’t exist. 

Comprehensive care is a term frequently bandied about in the mental health and addiction community. At SunCloud Health, we believe complete care doesn’t start at the day of admission, but at the very first phone call.  Every step we take is intentional, well thought out and in the best interest of the individual.  We move quickly and prudently.  We don’t cut corners despite the fact that we know we are “competing” against many who do.  After all this is medicine and the Hippocratic oath presides.

We take our responsibility at all levels throughout treatment, including at the admission process, incredibly seriously. We know our version of Care isn’t for everyone. We admit less than 50% of the people who do an intake assessment with us. Approximately 10% decide they aren’t interested and choose another program, approximately 10% we ultimately refer to another program (mostly to a higher level of care, because they need more than what we can safely provide) and nearly 30% of people who come to us for an intake are either not willing to or can’t agree to the conditions we recommend as part of admission.

For instance, some may want to continue to smoke marijuana and only work on their eating disorder, some may want to continue to take Xanex despite being extremely depressed, some may want to continue to take their Adderall despite a long history with addiction, some may want to work on their alcohol addiction but remain at 95 lbs with a BMI of 15 and some simply don’t appreciate the connection between underlying trauma and their self destructive behaviors.  There are places that will support patients in “carving out” what they do and do not want to work on while in treatment, and many of these facilities are indeed quite good at treating a specific diagnosis. For better or for worse, we are not one of these.  We are a place to consider if one is interested in working on “all of it”, understanding the connectivity between various self destructive behaviors and underlying trauma.  We want people to heal from their pain and embark on a journey of long term sustainable recovery.  Of course we want to help everyone and save every life that we can. However our chance of doing so is significantly reduced when people are not willing or able to commit fully to all aspects of our integrated and highly sophisticated version of treatment. The evaluation process is extremely important in this regard. Long term sustainable recovery for those who are a good fit starts the day we get the first call.  

Our call center is staffed with skilled professionals willing to spend the time required to determine if our program is the right fit for the individual. Because our treatment model is sophisticated and integrated, our staff wants  everyone to realize that we treat addictions and disorders simultaneously. As such, we want to admit people who genuinely understand and desire our care. With that said, we respect and understand the presence of dissonance. Committing to treatment can be challenging, even frightening. 


Alexander Chevalier, MD, provides an overview of the initial evaluation and assessment a patient goes through when starting treatment at SunCloud Health.


Michelle Duda, MS, LCPC, CADC, Director of Outpatient Treatment Center, Chicago (Lincoln Park) on why someone should consider choosing SunCloud Health as your treatment center?

Our level of care is not always suitable; if not, we try to provide referrals and other resources. Although we view this initial interaction as an incredibly valuable aspect of the admission process, there is no cost attached. 

The next step is a 1.5-2 hour bio psycho social evaluation. We regard this diagnostic tool as other professionals might view an X-Ray or  CT. This is a critical component of the intake process since self-reported  histories are inherently biased; we need accurate and detailed information to ensure that our version of care is correct. 

We then ask permission to gather “collateral information.”  This could be from an outside therapist, primary care doctor, current or past psychiatrist, or a previous treatment program.  We may unearth something as seemingly minor as a bad reaction to a particular medication that the person simply failed to mention. We may request a conversation with a family member to assess the home environment. It is important to determine safety, access to drugs and alcohol, etc. If the individual has been depressed and experiencing suicidal ideation, the family needs to know the seriousness of the problem, especially if the person is living at home during treatment.

Collecting outside information such as whether there are weapons in the home or if the individual has a history involving violence or aggression toward themselves or others is vital. Not surprisingly, these types of details are rarely volunteered by the person, and yet can be a game-changer in terms of treatment. 

Information such as this gives us a more accurate and comprehensive picture of the person. Additionally, a history of previous interventions as well as what worked and what did not, is highly beneficial. 

We may ask for the results of recent blood work or an EKG.  Labs give us an “under the hood” look to assess the extent to which the body has been impacted by the person’s behavior. For example, extreme drug abuse or an eating disorder can adversely affect cardiac function. We need to know if the heart has been weakened or impaired. When indicated, we perform a UTOX screen and weigh people (blindly).   

There are those who claim this attention to detail is either excessive or a waste of time. We do not and never will. Again, imagine an orthopedic surgeon encountering a new patient. Before picking up a scalpel, the doctor conducts a physical, takes a history, and orders films. Why? Because the doctor cannot see inside that person’s body, and neither can we. We can hope a heart is healthy, we can even try to believe that a person was not high during the evaluation, or we can know it definitively through empirical evidence. 

Completing the process can take a couple of days. This may prove frustrating, especially when other programs will admit quickly. But understand, we do what we do because we don’t know how to do it any other way.  The decision to admit someone into our program is only made with a high level of fact-based confidence. 

Addictions and disorders evolve and intensify over a period of many months, often years. Waiting a short time to access the correct care can be seen as a barrier to treatment; or it can be viewed as good medicine—the necessary steps to ensure people get the quality, comprehensive care they need and deserve.


Dr. Kimberly Dennis, MD, Medical Director, CEO and Co-founder at SunCloud Health explains the admission process at SunCloud Health, along with details on who is right and who may be referred elsewhere for treatment.

Additional Helpful InformationSunCloud Health’s Counseling Process

How to know when it’s time to seek help?

Why SunCloud Health?

Can SunCloud Health help me overcome my fear of getting started?

What are some of the patient benefits at SunCloud Health?

What makes SunCloud Health unique and (potentially) a good fit for you?

Kimmy Haynes on what makes SCH a good fit for her, what does it take?

How does SunCloud help patients overcome stigmas on mental health and addiction treatment?

Dr. Kim Dennis, Co-Founder and Medical Director at SunCloud Health, explains how SunCloud helps patients and their families overcome stigmas on mental health and addiction treatment.

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SunCloud Health’s Measured Outcomes

Though the mental health and addiction field has yet to identify a standardized set of outcome measurements we can all use to measure and identify “success” (and failure), this has not stopped SCH from measuring and using outcomes. We use these outcomes to improve our care and one day we hope our patients can use our outcomes to compare what we do to others who provide similar services. Transparency with these outcomes is critical.

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Accreditations, Certifications & Licensing

LegitScript approved
DASA License. Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
Joint Commission Behavioral Health Care Accreditation.
EDC Member
IAEDP Member

The Joint Commission signifies that all people always experience the safest, highest quality, best-value health care across all settings with a devotion to patient safety. The Gold Seal, is a symbol to the community and patients we serve that SunCloud Health has placed an emphasis on quality of care.

We are here for you.

One of the nations most trusted names in treating substance use addictions, eating disorders, mood disorders, PTSD and related traumas.
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