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 work, 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."
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."
Michele Reeder, M.Ed. has been with the Department of Mental Health for almost 20 years. Originally from Chicago, she started at the Little Blue House that was the Manning Clinic as the Children’s Coordinator, took a hiatus into hospital Behavioral Health and came back to DMH as the Kershaw County Clinic Director for 15 years. She has been the Chief of Staff for Santee- Wateree CMHC for three years. Ms. Reeder has a background in Biology/Chemistry and research immunology but found her calling in her Master’s in Counseling program at Wake Forest University which she entered initially to "find herself". Instead she found great satisfaction in learning how to help others. She began her career with School Based Counseling and Children’s Partial Hospitalization but moved into Adult Services and Management after 5 years. She has been a therapist for 29 years.
Currently Ms. Reeder works closely with the Center Director and Management staff to develop effective, efficient, patient centered outpatient programming. She continues to carry a small caseload to maintain understanding of current areas of concern for the clinical staff she supervises. She also coordinates Training for the Center and is focusing on succession planning and recruitment of qualified staff. Mrs. Reeder would like for the Center to have an integrated system with step wise programming to address the needs of patients. The Center is focused on developing a Crisis Stabilization Program within the next two years as well as developing services within micro-communities like area colleges and employers. Her long dream is a community of "tiny houses" that provides transitional as well as permanent housing with integrated community services and events for the population that we serve.
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.
Born and raised in Yonkers, NY, Lanalle Darden obtained her undergraduate degree and master’s degrees in Education and Social Work at Fordham University. The challenges Darden faced as a young mother of a daughter diagnosed with autism gave her the desire to improve social services and help others with similar issues. Headquartered in Camden, CAF Director Darden oversees CAF operations in all four counties of the SWMHC catchment area. CAF services provide therapeutic services, which include individual, family, and group counseling, school-based services, and some psychiatric medical services and crisis management, based on need.
Located in 26 public schools,SWMHC’s school-based program is an integral part of CAF services. Notably in 2011, SWMHC sustained a partnership with Clarendon School District 2 that was initially established three years ago through funding from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Rural Initiative Grant. In Kershaw County, SWMHC partners with the school district under the federal Safe School Healthy Students grant to offer school-based services in eight middle and high schools. The program is designed to promote safe and healthy environments in which children can learn and develop. The goal is to reduce violent behavior and substance use by providing students access to school-based clinicians. Entering year three of the five-year grant, mental health targeted services have exceeded yearly and cumulative projections providing intervention/prevention, education and consultation, case management, and treatment services. Darden and her staff work with community partners, including The Alpha Center, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the United Way, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, First Steps, and more. "We’ve developed a system of care that strengthens our services and our community," said Darden. She attributes much of her success to following her grandmother’s adage, that "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."
Mr. Valdez is a licensed Masters level social worker who graduated from University of South Carolina School of Social Work in 1989. Since that time he has worked for DHEC as a home health social worker in Marion County and as an HIV/AIDS social worker in the Florence area in South Carolina. He worked for Hospice of the Pee Dee for two years as a hospice social worker, worked in private practice for two years, and for Pee Dee Mental Health in Hartsville for four years prior to becoming the clinic director at Lee County Mental Health at Bishopville in 2005.
Since earning her Master’s degree in Counseling from Webster University in 2005, Dr. Myers has served in many roles including: Mental Health Counselor, School Based Counselor, Crisis Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Owner of a Private Counseling Practice, and now Clinic Director for Clarendon County Mental Health Center. Each of these roles came with unique expectations, standards, and challenges as well as valuable experiences that allow Dr. Myers to share with her staff and clients on a daily basis. She has the desire to supervise, teach, mentor, encourage, support, and give back to a profession that has given her so much.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor, Dr. Myers role is to prepare individuals for careers as effective Licensed Professional Counselors. However, she strongly believes that the education and training students receive prior to licensure in the counseling profession is imperative to the success of future counselors. Dr. Myers has been credentialed as a provider of behavioral health services on many insurance panels throughout South Carolina. As the requirements for the delivery of mental health services constantly change, her goal is to work closely with all clinical staff at SWCMHC that desire to seek licensure as a Professional Counselor.
The Clarendon Clinic serves over 800 clients each year. Dr. Myers supervises the Adult Outpatient Services. The goal of Clarendon MHC is to help aide clients in their recovery process. Services provided include; Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, Family Therapy, Psychiatric Services, Nursing Services, Skills Groups, and Peer Support Services. Dr. Myers also works closely with other community agencies and organizations in Clarendon County to help meet the overall needs of clients and their families.
Dr. Myers lives by the motto, ‘Treat others as YOU would want to be treated’. She understands the strength, courage, and dignity it takes for someone to admit they need help and then actually begin taking the necessary steps toward receiving that help. She stresses to her staff the importance of treating clients with respect and compassion. She believes that in order for client’s treatment to be beneficial; mental health professionals must take into consideration that clients come from diverse backgrounds and cultures; they learn differently, have different goals and objectives, as well as different strengths and weaknesses, and should be met wherever they are within their recovery process.