Mainland mentalSignificant improvements are expected in state mental health services across the state when two mainland mental health officials begin work this fall with the state Department of Health.
health experts to
join state Health
The department is expanding
adult mental health services
under a 4-year plan
By Helen Altonn
"I think we've got two outstanding individuals in key positions to lead our efforts to expand our adult mental health services," said state Health Director Bruce Anderson, announcing the appointments.
Dr. Thomas W. Hester of the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse, will fill a newly created position as the Adult Mental Health Division's medical-clinical director.
Paul Guggenheim, executive director of the Core Behavioral Health Centers in Cincinnati, will administer the State Hospital for the mentally ill in Kaneohe.
The two were selected in a national recruitment process that Anderson said attracted considerable interest.
Hester will join the department Aug. 1, and Guggenheim will start work here in September.
Barbara Peterson, who now administers the State Hospital, did not reapply for the job. She has a one-year contract ending in November.
Anderson said the Health Department is lucky to get Hester and Guggenheim, both of whom have "a wealth of knowledge and experience."
He said their appointments "will strengthen our system of care as we move toward a more comprehensive network of public and private care to respond to the mental health needs of Hawaii residents statewide."
The Health Department is dramatically expanding community-based mental health programs and support for the mentally ill under a four-year plan.
Hester's position was created to provide medical leadership and clinical expertise in the community-based programs, Anderson said.
He will be responsible for providing appropriate medical and clinical services to about 4,000 mental health clients assisted by the Health Department in the community.
Hester is medical director and deputy division director for integrated services in the Georgia department. His responsibilities involve coordinating the hospital and regional service system.
Guggenheim, a former colleague of Peterson's in Ohio, is responsible for the overall operation and administration of services to adults and children in the Core Behavioral Health Centers there.
Services include case management; adolescent substance abuse; a 24-hour, 14-bed respite program; partial hospitalization program; consumer-operated programming; and prevention and educational services.
He previously administered several psychiatric hospitals, including the Rollman Psychiatric Institute in Cincinnati where he had charge of all aspects of operations, planning, programs and services.
"The timing is great," Anderson said of the appointments, noting the Legislature has allocated an additional $22 million to the Health Department over the next two years to develop community mental health services.
Some of the money will be used to establish a client tracking system so the department can follow people needing mental health services and "they won't fall through the cracks and disappear," he said.