Serving Sumter, Lee, Kershaw and Clarendon Counties
Jeff Ham, Executive Director
You can go home again . . . well almost. Jeffery L. Ham, Executive Director of the Santee Wateree MHC, grew up in Florence. SC. He recalls coming to Shaw Air Force Base to visit family stationed there many years ago, but had no idea that his current job would take him back to this area.
"I am a self-proclaimed DMH-lifer," said Ham, when asked how he ended up here. "I bleed DMH blue, because I have a passion for public service and really value the professional service we provide to all of the community."
Ham began working as a ‘key man’ or direct care staff at the SC State Hospital on Bull Street more than 28 years ago. "I worked on locked wards at the old hospital, and the patients would call the male staff "keyman" because the entrance to the building and all of the doors separating the individual wards were locked.
"I was part of the deinstitutionalization or downsizing of the old State Psychiatric Hospital back in the early 90’s, recalled Ham. He went from working as a direct care staff (Mental Health Specialist) where he led patients groups and trained other staff how to deal with difficult behaviors. Ham worked closely with the Toward Local Care (TLC) program for several years. "I had seen some the patients at State Hospital at their worst, and I got a chance to see them at their best when they were discharged to the community. Mental health recovery is real. I truly believe that people respond to expectations," he added
After serving in an interim basis for about six month, Ham was appointed the Executive Director for Santee Wateree MHC on Oct. 2, 2017. It has been a winding route, but one the he felt was destined. "I am truly honored and humbled by my selection. I have always been someone willing to help people in any way I can. I consider myself as a patient advocate. My career at mental health has allowed me to fulfill this in so many ways," said Ham.
Having roots in the a Pee Dee, Ham is familiar with the area, and he served as the central office liaison to several MHC board around the state for many years, including Piedmont, Spartanburg, Berkeley, Charleston-Dorchester, Coastal Empire, Waccamaw, Orangeburg, Columbia Area and Tri-County. He said this experience helped enrich his knowledge of the centers’ operations.
Ham is known as man of many hats (literally). He also has experience working with various interagencies in his role as assistant to the Deputy Director of Community Mental Health Services, including, SC Disabilities and Special Needs, Dept. of Social Services, Health and Human Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Dept. of Corrections, Dept. of Juvenile Justice, DMH Inpatient facilities as well as local hospitals.
Ham said his role as Executive Director is to build strong community relationship and increase partnerships in all four counties (Sumter, Kershaw, Lee and Clarendon). He is proud of the staff at the center. The programs offered here are top notch. Santee-Wateree was one of the first centers in the state that offered a Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT) team. Other notable programs are: "I love my job, and I like what I do," Ham said. "I bleed DMH blue. I believe we provide the best services possible for persons with mental illness. I want to do all I can to destigmatize this disease. Our staff is caring, competent and professional. One in four individuals will be touched by mental illness. There is a chance that you know someone who is in need of treatment, and we want to make sure they get the best service possible."
Marian Dehlinger, MD, Medical Director
Hailing from Athens, Greece, Medical Director Dr. Dehlinger graduated from Temple Medical School and completed her residency at the Temple Psychiatry Residency Program in Philadelphia, PA.
She decided to specialize in Psychiatry during her residency because she realized she is more drawn to healing mental illnesses than physical disease. She brings to the table extensive psychiatric experience in the public and private sectors and has been Board certified in Psychiatry/Neurology since 1994.
Dr. Dehlinger derives satisfaction from both the clinical and administrative duties of medical director. She said, "On the clinical side you affect the patient you see, but on the administrative side you can affect even those you don't personally see.
You influence a much wider scope. I want to make changes to give the best possible care to our clients." Dr. Dehlinger is concerned with all aspects of the Center, including how clients are greeted at the front desk. It is her goal that every client has a positive experience at SWMHC. She meets with staff and community partners, reviews surveys and comments, and tries to address and resolve all issues quickly.
"I think it’s important to increase communication with all agencies in the healthcare system. We are only as strong as our weakest link," she said.
She hopes to recruit psychiatrists from the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina residency programs, who will stay at SWMHC long term.
When asked what drives her she said, "My father raised me to do the best I can, no matter what I do or where I work. He gave great advice."
Lynn Melton, Sumter County Clinic Director,Elder Service/ACT Program Director
Lynn grew up in a rural area of Sumter County. She attended Columbia College where she majored in Social Work. She had her first experience with the SC Department of Mental Health in 1984 and 1985 as an intern at the Crafts-Farrow State Hospital. After her graduation, the internship led to a job offer for a social worker position at Crafts-Farrow. She laughs as she says this is where her adventures started. "Where else can you work and every day is a new adventure"!
In 1986, while working at Crafts Farrow State Hospital, she decided to further her education by returning to graduate school at the University of South Carolina where she received her MSW Degree.
Lynn has devoted the majority of her career to Geriatrics in both the private and public sectors. "I was gifted with a very deep and very loud voice – my presence is generally known -- which makes it easy for the clients to hear me," she laughs.
Lynn joined the Santee Wateree Team in 2004. She is currently the Clinic Director of the Sumter Center, Crisis, Elder and ACT services. Her goal is to provide quality care while reducing the stigma associated with mental illnesses.
Kim Gaines, Kershaw County Clinic Director
In 1994, Kimberly C. Gaines entered the workforce into DMH as a graduate from Francis Marion University. She began working as a temporary employee for the then newly devised program in Lee County, TLC (Towards Local Care), which included young adults, and geriatric patients. Kimberly worked with patients as their Intensive Case Manager to assist with their entering the community from the state hospitals. Half her time was dedicated to the TLC Program in Case Management, but also to the RPT (Rehabilitative Psychosocial) Day Program, where she worked with young adults leading groups and teaching daily living skills.
In 1995 after successful strides she was made a permanent employee of Santee Wateree Mental Health. In 1998 she moved from the day program into the Lee County Clinic where she began working intensely with her then passion, Children and Adolescents. She decided at that time to also move on in her education by obtaining a Master of Arts in Counseling from Webster University, in Columbia, S.C. Kimberly continued her tenure at Mental Health with almost ten years of experience and in 2002, was moved to the Sumter CAF location as a School Based Therapist.
In 2007 she was given the opportunity to move into leadership as she moved to Kershaw County Mental Health as CAF Coordinator, for the Kershaw County Child and Adolescent Team. In 2009 she returned to her home town, Sumter County, to take on the reigns of Clinic Director as well as Supervisor to the Sumter, Child, Adolescent, and Family Team. In her tenure at Santee Wateree she has worked in 3 of the 4 catch man areas served, working with numerous populations, as well as acting as interim CAF Director numerous times over the years until new hires. This, Kim notes, has led way to a "wealth of knowledge, as well as a heck of tool set". What keeps her motivated and at Santee Wateree is her drive and passion to help serve others in excellence. She sees her mission as purpose, "to provide light to others in what are seemingly dark situations". The best reward for Kimberly, is seeing a person that was once struggling; now better and standing strong! In Sept 2019, she has moved full circle and returned, to Adult Services and is now Program Coordinator II, Clinic Director for Kershaw Mental Health
Travis Laws, Lee County Clinic Director
Travis Laws is a product of Lee County. Born and raised in Lynchburg, SC, he matriculated through the public schools of Lee County graduating from Mount Pleasant High School in 1996. Mr. Laws is a 2000 graduate of Claflin University and a 2006 graduate of Webster University obtaining his Master of Arts degree in Counseling with an emphasis on Professional Mental Health Counseling. Mr. Laws has been employed with Lee County Schools as a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Counselor, Bryan Psychiatric Hospital as a Clinical Counselor, Family Support Services as a Clinical Therapist, Sumter Behavioral Health Services as Clinical Counselor and Santee Wateree Mental Health as a Nationally Certified Employment Specialist. Currently, Mr. Laws serves as the Clinic Director of the Lee County Community Mental Center, a community in which he knows so well.
The Goal of the Lee County Clinic is to support the recovery of people with mental illness. The Lee County clinic offers a full and flexible array of outpatient services, including individual, group, and family therapy, psychiatric services, emergency services, and case management. The Lee County Clinic strives to provide culturally competent, holistic, wellness focused and evidenced-based services to promote resiliency for children, adults and family with mental health challenges. Clinic’s Motto is "You Don’t Have to Fight Alone."
Mr. Laws is actively involved in various community and church related organizations; to include the founder and director of his very own Young Male Mentoring Initiative "Higher Call".
Mr. Laws motto is" Do not be conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. Mr. Laws communicates the importance of teamwork as he and the staff at The Lee County Community Mental Health Clinic strives to serve their community with dignity and respect.