Sanford Behavioral Health – Updates 2024 with Chief Operating Officer Katie Vokes

update 2024

We are raising the bar on mental health treatment in Michigan.

Rae and David Green founded Sanford Behavioral Health (Sanford House) in 2015 with a mission to elevate the effectiveness and availability of treatment for individuals diagnosed with addiction and mental health disorders. After nine years of intelligent, controlled growth, Sanford Behavioral Health is now a thriving substance use disorder, eating disorder, and mental health treatment center. With the opening of Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus in 2022, Sanford was able to “raise the bar” on mental health treatment in Michigan and beyond.


Notably, Sanford West houses the first standalone residential eating disorder treatment center in Michigan. It also has a full complement of psychiatric and medical providers and staff who offer individualized solutions for long-term recovery and a full continuum of evidence-based programs. We sat down with Sanford Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Katie Vokes to talk about Sanford Behavioral Health updates 2024.


Features of Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus

  • Medical Detox Center
  • Sanford Comprehensive Treatment for Eating Disorders – first standalone residential center in Michigan
  • Substance Use Disorder and Co-Occurring Mental Health Treatment Center
  • Supportive Housing for outpatient programs
  • Psychiatrist-led medical team including physicians, psychiatric nurse practitioners, registered nurses
  • Medically safe and secure setting 24/7
  • Medication management, including MAT and SPRAVATO
  • Qualified healthcare providers to manage co-occurring medical or psychiatric symptoms
  • Dieticians, Doctor of Clinical Nutrition, master’s level and above clinical therapists
  • Full continuum of care, individual and group therapy
  • In-person and telehealth options
  • Private chef, Sanford Café, clinical kitchen, health club, rigorous excursions, and experiential therapy
  • Situated on 18 rural acres, 12 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids



Sanford Behavioral Health Updates 2024 with Katie Vokes


“We have a history of adapting to the needs of our patients and the community at Sanford. We experienced higher acuity and a shift in the type of services our patients needed after the pandemic. With this amazing behavioral health campus, we have psychiatric, medical, clinical, dietary, recreational, and integrative programming under one roof.” Katie Vokes


Sanford –  You are consolidating programs under one roof at Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus. Could you talk about that, please?

Katie Vokes – Sure. I will start with what has led us to this decision. One of the things that we anticipated during COVID-19 in 2020 was an increase in the need and demand for substance use disorder services. So, we braced for the impact of a huge increase in our census. It is one of the reasons we opened Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus. While we have seen an increase in our census year over year since the pandemic, we are seeing a huge increase in patient acuity. In other words, patients are coming to us sicker than they ever have been for a variety of reasons.


As you know, there needs to be more services in our state. In many areas Up North and in the Upper Peninsula, there are mental health deserts without treatment services of any kind. So, by the time patients are at our door, they need a lot more medical and psychiatric support. In the past, we have worked out of a number of facilities in downtown Grand Rapids and here in Marne, Michigan. The historic homes we occupied in Grand Rapids (Sanford House at John and Cherry Streets) were beautiful, comfortable environments for people to recover in. However, there was a limiting factor in the psychiatric and medical services that we were able to provide at those locations.


We found ourselves admitting more of our patients to the Stanford West campus because of the readily available medical and psychiatric services that were here. It led us to the decision to close the houses and move all programs to the Sanford West campus.


Sanford updates 2024

Katie Vokes and Chef Peter Claus in the Sanford Café


Sanford – Please tell us about  Sanford West Behavioral Health Campus 2024.

Katie Vokes – We have an amazing behavioral health campus, where we have added more psychiatric and medical services over the past two years. We also have our registered dietitians, clinical therapists, recreational therapists, and medical and psychiatric providers on site. Integrating those disciplines in treatment for our substance use disorder (SUD) and eating disorder patients is a huge asset. Individuals can complete the full continuum of care under one roof. We can also treat co-occurring SUD and eating disorders because we do see patients who present with both. We have a group therapy session all about nutrition in recovery, and that’s something that sets us apart; the nutritional expertise wouldn’t be as accessible if we didn’t have this campus. Here are updates for 2024!


Mental Health Treatment

We are announcing the launch of mental health primary treatment for patients with treatment-resistant depression, suicidal ideation, and other mental health conditions. These services are provided in outpatient or for extended periods in residence and fill the gaps between psychiatric hospitals and individual counseling.  We can also address these conditions when they present in SUD or eating disorder patients. Well-trained providers staff our SPRAVATO Clinic, and we are opening an intensive outpatient track for mental health primary patients. All programs incorporate medical and psychiatric services, including medication management, therapy, and support services that “follow you home” when you leave Sanford Behavioral Health. We also provide referrals for follow-up medical appointments and coordination of treatment for primary care or medical specialties. 


Sanford updates 2024 collage of photos

Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment

Sanford Detox Center

We are seeing a steady increase in the number of patients coming in for medical detox at the Detox Center. The center has 16 detox beds, with a team of clinical therapists who meet with patients during their detoxification. We have a full staff of medical providers, including nurses (24/7), psychiatrist, physicians, and nurse practitioners. Our recovery technicians conduct groups, and medical assistants help the nurses. We offer in-house AA and 12-step groups so our detox patients have exposure to recovery groups and the beginnings of treatment.


SUD Residential

We have our residential facility on the other side of the door from detox. It is fantastic having it right next to detox because all of the nursing and medical support is here. It also gives those in detox a clear incentive to continue treatment after detoxification. Our residential units are gender-specific, and some programs are also specific to female or male-gendered individuals. We are continuing our signature excursions in the community or Michigan outdoors, and residential patients attend onsite or offsite 12-step meetings every night. We provide exposure to a variety of community resources so patients can find options that fit their recovery needs.


Sanford Outpatient Center

Our Outpatient Center is also at Sanford West, so patients can come through the doors at the detox level and stay through the residential level of care to outpatient programming. Patients may move “down” the continuum but also “up.” Patients who enter at the outpatient level may discover they need additional support and transition to a higher level of care. At the outpatient center, we offer flexible, individualized recovery programs that are ideal for those who have work, childcare, school, and other obligations. Outpatient treatment allows for the continuation of real-life activities while integrating effective strategies to manage recovery. Outpatient consists of day programs (PHP), half-day programs (IOP), and telehealth options. Family and alumni programs are conducted virtually.

Supportive Housing

For those who live farther away or need extra accountability, Sanford offers supportive living for outpatient programming. Our supportive housing facility is a year old in August. It has 12 beds that support eating disorder and substance use disorder patients. It has been such an amazing program – especially for those who need a safe living environment or a little extra support before they are on their own.



Sanford Comprehensive Treatment for Eating Disorders

Our residential eating disorder program is almost two years old. That is a program that has really evolved since we first opened it! We also have developed day (PHP) and half-day (IOP) programs for eating disorders. Patients in our eating disorder programs maintain the same individual therapist through all levels of treatment. So it’s a very, very close integrative team. The dietitians, therapists, nurses, and recreational therapists are all different pieces of the care team. They treat all levels of care together, and that’s consistent with appropriate treatment for eating disorders. It is more cozy and familiar, but eating disorder patients tend to stay in treatment longer. I am excited to announce that we are opening a virtual IOP track for eating disorders next quarter! Our family and alumni programs are conducted virtually.


Medication Management and MAT

With medication management, we consistently meet needs for cravings, sleep medications, or mood management. We provide Vivitrol, Naltrexone, SPRAVATO, Antabuse, or Acamprosate at Sanford West. We also help with anxiety or depression medications. Our psychiatrist-led team of medical providers proffers medication management in residential, outpatient, and virtual milieus (see “Mental Health Treatment” above). MAT helps patients get through the discomfort of opioid withdrawal, and it helps to reduce drug cravings. MAT is primarily used for the treatment of addiction to opioids and alcohol.


Sanford,  Thanks for the update. At Sanford, we talk about real-life recovery. What does real-life recovery mean to you?

Katie Vokes – There’s so much fear, rightfully so, fear and anxiety around leaving home, leaving the substance or the eating disorder, leaving your safe place, leaving family, and being away for treatment. This is the crux of real-life recovery. It is a way to start the process of healing, but without going to treatment for an extended period. Residential treatment is not the right level for everyone. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of our medical and clinical team to place each patient in the least restrictive level of care.


Sanford – Is there anything else you would like to say about Sanford updates 2024?

Katie Vokes – Yes. It really comes down to providing access to as many services as our patients need. One of the things we have learned over the years is that the Sanford culture is more than the physical space (of course, Sanford West is beautiful). The culture of an organization is really about the connection between our teams and our patients. It’s about creating robust non-clinical programming as well as evidence-based therapy. It is about cross-training our staff, individualized care, diversity amongst patients and staff, and staying vigilant and prepared when the needs of our patients change.

Thanks, Katie!


Sanford Behavioral Health is licensed and accredited as an addiction, eating disorder, and co-occurring mental health treatment facility, serving all of Michigan and beyond. Each of Sanford’s facilities in Greater Grand Rapids is carefully and diligently crafted to create a welcoming and comforting environment. Sanford is led by a psychiatrist-led team of medical, clinical, and support personnel providing medication-assisted, evidenced-based treatment to residential, outpatient, and telehealth patients. For more information, visit