Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Setting - Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center
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Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center

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Psychology Postdoctoral Fellowship Program Setting

On October 1, 2010, the North Chicago VA Medical Center and Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes were integrated into the Captain James A. Lovell FHCC.


THE FHCC’S MISSION: Readying Warriors and Caring for Heroes

The mission of the Lovell FHCC is to “provide comprehensive, compassionate, patient centered care to our Veterans and DoD beneficiaries while maintaining the highest level of operational readiness.” The vision of the Lovell FHCC is “creating the future of federal healthcare through excellence in world-class patient care, customer service, education and research.”

The legally mandated primary mission of the Veterans Health Administration system of health care facilities is the provision of comprehensive health care services to eligible Veteran beneficiaries. The Veterans Health Administration system of health care facilities is currently organized into 22 Veterans Integrated Service Networks (VISN’s). Each VISN consists of a geographic grouping of 6 to 12 VA Medical Centers. Each of the Medical Centers in a VISN has a specific mission complementing that of its network partners.

The Lovell FHCC is one of the 8 medical centers in VISN 12 (VA Great Lakes Health Care System), which includes, among others, the Hines and Jesse Brown VAMC's in Chicago, Illinois, and the Milwaukee, Madison and Tomah VAMC’s in Wisconsin. Within its broad legally mandated mission, the FHCC has the more narrowly defined mission of serving as the intermediate and long-term care facility for psychiatric and medical patients in VISN 12. As such, the FHCC operates a wide range of outpatient, residential, inpatient and community based programs serving veterans in a catchment area reaching into northern Indiana, southern Wisconsin and western Illinois.

The secondary mission of the Veterans Health Administration system of health care facilities is to provide training for future health care providers and administrators. The Lovell FHCC is a "Dean's Committee" teaching hospital. It therefore operates a variety of training programs, and maintains numerous teaching affiliations with institutions of higher learning, such as the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science, Northwestern, Loyola, and DePaul Universities, the University of Illinois, and various public and private four-year colleges. The teaching affiliations are evident in a number of clerkship, internship and residency programs in a broad variety of health care fields. In addition to psychology internships, there are ongoing training programs in nursing, social work, pharmacy, podiatry, psychiatry, medicine, dentistry, and many other health care disciplines. These affiliations offer opportunities for continued educational involvement and a rich source of multi- and interdisciplinary interactions.

The tertiary mission of the Veterans Health Administration system of health care facilities is to conduct basic and applied research on health related matters, especially as they pertain to veterans. Research activities at the FHCC cover a broad range of areas and include medical-physiological studies, as well as psychiatry and psychology research projects.


The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC), a J.C.A.H.O. accredited psychiatric and general medicine federal health care facility, is located about 45 minutes north of downtown Chicago and approximately 50 minutes by freeway south of the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area. 

North Chicago itself is a community of about 40,000 people and is directly adjacent to the communities of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and surrounded on three sides by the Great Lakes Navy Base, all of which are located on the shores of Lake Michigan. North Chicago, while maintaining some of its rural heritage, is a small community with a light industry economic base and a predominantly blue-collar population. It offers, within easy commuting distance by car or train, all of the diverse cultural and recreational opportunities of both the Chicago and Milwaukee metropolitan areas. Lake Michigan offers significant outdoor-recreational opportunities and, in addition, provides a moderating effect on the climate, cooling during the summer and warming during the winter.

The various communities in and around the North Chicago area offer a wide range of living accommodations including apartments, townhouses, condominiums, small and large single family homes and within a 45 minute driving radius opportunities exist to lease one and two bedroom lake cottages. Cost of housing is significantly less than in the central Chicago metropolitan area and runs the full price range. The cost of living is similarly lower than in typical major metropolitan areas. Public transportation to Chicago and Milwaukee is available via train and bus; the local public transportation agency has a bus line directly to the Medical Center grounds.


The Medical Center first opened in 1926 with five buildings and a bed capacity of 355. During subsequent years, the Medical Center expanded to a bed capacity of over 2,400 with 58 buildings occupying a 125-acre site. In the early 1990’s health care practices shifted towards increased outpatient treatment and the bed capacity was reduced to about 1200 beds. This trend continued throughout the decade. On October 1, 2010, the North Chicago VA Medical Center and Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes were integrated into the Captain James A. Lovell FHCC. Currently the authorized combined inpatient and residential program bed capacity at our facility is approximately 337. The numbers of available patient beds allocated to specific services is as follows: Acute Operating Hospital, 72 beds; Community Living Center (CLC), 140 beds; Homeless Veteran Rehabilitation Program (HVRP), 60 beds; Stress Disorders Treatment Unit (SDTU), 26 beds; Substance Abuse Program, 39 beds; and Department of Defense Hospital, 30 beds including observation.

The Captain James A. Lovell FHCC has outpatient programs with over 200,000 visits per year that provide both outpatient services and follow-up treatment for ambulatory psychiatric and medical inpatients. In addition, there are numerous medical sub-specialty outpatient clinics. Day treatment, respite care and hospice programs and medical center based Home Health Care programs further expand the FHCC’s ability to provide community support services.

As an active long-term psychiatric and medical inpatient and outpatient facility, the FHCC is fully equipped in the support areas of Laboratory, Radiology and Nuclear Medicine. It operates inpatient units, residential care programs and outpatient programs in Respiratory Care, Endocrine-Metabolic Care, Cardiac Care, Gastroenterology, Physical Rehabilitation Medicine, Neurology, Psychiatry, Substance Abuse Rehabilitation and Drug Dependency Treatment, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Treatment and Homeless Veterans Rehabilitation.

The on-site childcare facility is accredited by the National Academy of Early Childhood Programs and is State licensed. It provides care for children aged six weeks to five years (for summer camp, ages 6-10), and its services are available to FHCC trainees and employees at a discount. Completely contained within the hospital grounds are an indoor swimming pool and gymnasium.

The Captain James A. Lovell FHCC is within walking distance of the Chicago Northwestern commuter train running between Kenosha, WI and the Chicago Loop. The FHCC is also within commuting distance of both Northwestern University campuses, Loyola University, University of Illinois at Chicago (Circle Campus) and within easy driving distance of numerous other private and community colleges, business and professional schools.

The FHCC's location combines many of the advantages of big city living while maintaining its ready access to rural agricultural areas, camping facilities and the numerous lakes and rivers of Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, for those who enjoy outdoor sports and activities.  For those more inclined towards eating cheese and pretzels and drinking beer, our close proximity to the "Beer Capital of the World" should not be overlooked.


The Captain James A. Lovell FHCC's equipment and facilities are well maintained and constant renovation and reconstruction have resulted in an improved physical plant. A major renovation and expansion project began in 1988 and was completed in 1994. A second major renovation and expansion project, started in 2006 and completed in 2010, integrated Navy and VA healthcare into a Federal Health Care Center on the VA grounds. The Medical Library is staffed by a highly competent professional medical reference librarian. It provides access to 3,000 professional texts, 2,000 bound periodicals and subscribes to over 200 professional journals. The library has Internet and other computerized document and library database retrieval capabilities and has interlibrary loan arrangements with many institutions of higher learning and the entire network of VA libraries.

The FHCC’s physical facilities provide ample private office and treatment space for staff and interns. Professional clinical staff and interns have their own private offices and have networked personal computers or “thin-client” workstations (MS Windows NT operating system-based workstations) connected to the Medical Center's main computer system. The system provides access to the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS), MS Office Suite programs, the Internet, computerized psychological testing, electronic mail and other utilities. Access to printers, fax and copying equipment is also readily available. The Outpatient Mental Health Clinic is spacious and designed to accommodate a variety of learning and training activities. It includes observation rooms, group therapy rooms, conference areas, and a number of private offices as well as several common treatment offices that can be scheduled in advance for outpatient appointments.

The presence of other VA, public, and private sector health care facilities, and of a number of large and small universities and colleges and their library holdings within easy commuting range, further enhances access to learning resources. The FHCC and its academic affiliates conduct numerous special interest symposia, workshops, teaching rounds and invited speaker presentations on a broad range of topics of interest to health care practitioners in many fields. Many national, regional and state conferences, conventions and meetings of various psychology and related mental health professional associations are held on an annual basis in Chicago.  Psychology fellows at FHCC are encouraged to take advantage such activities offer when appropriate to their training needs.


The FHCC's staff (approximately 1,040) consists of highly qualified support staff and clinical practitioners, the majority of whom have advanced credentials in their field of expertise, ranging from licensure and registration to specialty board certification.

The staff is organized in a manner somewhat analogous to that of “primary/managed care” oriented private sector health care delivery systems. Most professional service providers are therefore assigned to programs staffed by multidisciplinary primary care practice groups or “teams”. The programs, in turn, are part of “business units” in “product or care lines.”

At the FHCC there are three different kinds of programs to which professional provider groups are assigned: Primary Care programs, Specialty Care programs and Inpatient-Residential Care programs. Primary Care (PC) programs provide primary physical health care and primary mental health care, respectively in the “medical care/product line” and the “mental health care/product line”. Both are parts of the “patient care/product line.” Other multidisciplinary groups in this business unit, such as the PTSD-RRTP (Stress Disorder Treatment Unit), deliver "specialized" forms of care. The roles of the professional staff in these settings are analogous to those of providers in specialty group practices in the private sector.

In keeping with a primary care oriented approach to health service delivery, the medical and mental health primary and specialty care programs each are responsible for their own cohort of patients, whom they follow across the full treatment continuum, from preventative to aftercare services. The FHCC primary and specialty care programs thus function in a manner similar to that of group practices in the private sector. Their task is to maintain their patients’ health in the most clinically effective and most cost-effective manner, in the least restrictive treatment environment. This entails providing as much care as possible on an outpatient basis, admitting patients to inpatient care or residential care only when absolutely necessary and keeping admissions and lengths of stay to a minimum while maintaining quality.

The remaining clinical staff at the FHCC function in a variety of other professional, paraprofessional or technical service provider support roles, in various inpatient or residential (i.e. "facility based") programs and settings. Examples include the Addiction Treatment Program and the Homeless Veterans Domiciliary. These residential care settings therefore also employ most of the nursing, technician, and administrative support and plant maintenance staff, with roles similar to those of salaried professional and technical employees of private sector hospitals, clinics and similar facilities.

Additionally, many FHCC staff members serve in a variety of non-clinical program leadership, management or consultative roles, as well as in support roles in various business units in the administrative product line, akin to roles in private sector health care administration.