By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – To celebrate five decades, doctors, staff and program partners gathered to celebrate St. Dominic Behavioral Health on their campus on Friday, May 14. The present facility located on St. Dominic’s north campus was built in 2013 and currently has three patient care units with a total of 77 bed adults, senior and in-patient and outpatient programs, including outreach efforts for the community.
At the event, Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, current foundation associate executive director, shared remarks about the past, explaining that the program had its beginnings in 1971 with a psychiatric unit on the sixth floor of the main hospital on the south campus. In 1992, the psychiatric unit was moved to the north campus when St. Dominic acquired the land.
Also on hand at the event, was Dr. Kathy Crocket, executive director of Hinds Behavioral Health Services, who talked about the organizations shared history with St. Dominic Behavioral Health. Hinds Behavioral began in 1971 as the Jackson Mental Health Center and was attached to St. Dominic’s until 2004 when the name changed to Hinds Behavioral explained, Crocket. “I am proud to say that we continue to have a great partnership with St. Dominic’s Hospital,” said Crocket. “We look forward to continuing that partnership for many years to come.”
Mental health hits home for Dr. Jared Taylor, a staff psychiatrist at the center. He explained that millions of people have been helped through mental health services. “When I think about 50 years of Behavioral Health Services, I think about the millions of people who have been positively impacted by mental health. And when I say millions of people, I am not only talking about patients, but I am also talking about family members and friends.”
Taylor grew up in Jackson with a father, who suffered from schizophrenia. “Unfortunately, he did not get the help that he needed and so part of my goal as a psychiatrist is to help as many people as possible, so the same type of instance doesn’t occur again,” said Taylor.
He also talked about the increased rates of depression and anxiety that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on across the world; and that mental health is needed now more than ever.
Senior director, Bonnie Moore talked about some of the “wins” in her tenure at Behavioral Health, that included working with the FBI to help a lost and confused woman find her family. “We have a great team that is always thinking outside the box,” said Moore.
“Not everyday brings us uplifting experiences but here at St. Dominic’s Behavioral Health, everyday does offer a chance to show kindness to someone,” said Moore.
The celebration also included a commissioned live artistry by Kerry Jackson. While panelists spoke, Jackson completed a painting that will hang in the Behavioral Health lobby. Jackson travels the world communicating the Gospel using visual arts and traveled to his hometown of Jackson from Marietta, Georgia to be a part of the celebration.
Beginning with name tags with mental health disorders and symptoms, Jackson began painting various colorful shapes. It took a while, but the picture began to come together, and the crowd realized Jesus was there for comfort and support.
In his blessing for the celebration, Bishop Joseph Kopacz gave thanks to God. “Loving God, we give thanks for this joyful celebration of the 50th anniversary of the St. Dominic’s Behavioral Health Center, that has been a haven of safety, healing and hope for many who have passed through these doors. We thank you for generations of dedicated staff, who have accompanied those in the need of the services of mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing.”
(St. Dominic’s Behavioral Health Services strives to provide quality and compassionate treatment to individuals and their families suffering from mental illness. Their goal is to help each individual and their family achieve the best possible outcome. Assessment and referral specialists are available 24 hours/7 days a week at 1-800-632-5907.)