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."
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."
Michele M. Reeder, M.Ed. has been with the Department of Mental Health for over 18 years. Most of that time was spent as the Clinic Director of Kershaw County Mental Health in Camden. Most recently she accepted a position as the Director of Adult Clinical Services at Santee- Wateree Mental Health Center. Ms. Reeder is a member of Senior Management for the Center and responsible for the supervision of the Adult Clinical Services Programs and spends her time in clinical supervision and oversite, training, program development and outcomes evaluation. She maintains a small caseload to "keep things fresh." Originally growing up in Chicago, Ms. Reeder has called South Carolina home for over twenty years and enjoys the weather and the beaches! She finds much joy in helping people to figure out how to find and pursue the positives and accomplish the things they wish to accomplish with their lives.
Sandy grew up as an "Air Force brat" of a fighter pilot until her father retired and her family returned to settle down in his home town of Kershaw, SC. Sandy attended Winthrop College in Rock Hill, SC where she majored in psychology. Upon graduation, she went to work for the SC Department of Social Services where she worked for 10 years before deciding to go back to Winthrop University to pursue her Master of Education degree in Community Counseling. Sandy did her internship at the Lancaster office of the Catawba Community Mental Health Center and was promptly hired as soon as she earned her degree. She remained with Catawba for 17 years, starting out as an intensive case manager and working her way up to eventually becoming the Clinic Director. Always looking for new challenges, Sandy transferred to Santee-Wateree as the Sumter Clinic director in 2013. Sandy’s assignment here at Santee-Wateree has provided her with the opportunity to manage a Clinic twice the size of the one she managed in Lancaster. Sandy was also selected to participate in the DMH Mentoring and Succession Program and is also participating in a new partnership with Central Carolina Technical College to develop a Behavioral Intervention Team for the school. Sandy is now the Clinic Director of the Kershaw County MHC.
Sandy was drawn to this profession after witnessing mental illness in her own family. Despite having successfully served for 22 years in the Air Force as a pilot, her father was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder for the first time after age fifty. At the same time her brother was experiencing his own mental health challenges including multiple psychiatric hospitalizations. He has since been diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder. Sandy later learned that her paternal grandfather had also been hospitalized at the Bull Street campus of the old State Hospital in Columbia in the 1930’s prior to committing suicide when Sandy’s father was 6 years old. Sandy credits the dedicated employees of another of the Department of Mental Health’s Community Mental Health Centers in the upstate for her brother’s progress in his recovery.
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.