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Office Hours M-F 8:30am to 5:00pm

24 Hour Emergency Contact Number (803) 775-9364

     
Richard Guess, Executive Director

     Richard B. Guess, M.Ed., likes perfecting things. Whether it’s organizing a beekeeping association to share knowledge, providing multi-cultural training to celebrate his Native American heritage, or transforming the way services are delivered to mental health clients, he continuously strives for the best. So, when SWMHC needed a new executive director six years ago, he accepted and found tremendous potential at SWMHC.
      “We have the talent here locally to do something for ourselves, and the generosity to share it with others. We see ourselves as part of a bigger picture that contributes here and contributes to others,” said Guess. For instance, SWMHC staff developed the first electronic medical record (EMR) in the Agency, which later served as the template for a statewide EMR now implemented in all DMH centers. “We have loyal, innovative staff. I consider them our greatest resource,” he said.
      Guess always knew he wanted to touch individual lives and chose psychology as his college major, later graduating with a Master of Education degree from the University of South Carolina.
      Like many at DMH, he has been personally affected by mental illness. “I married into a family with a secret, one they had never dealt with” he said.
      The first time his former mother-in-law called in the middle of the night telling him to check on his children, it didn’t seem alarming. But the calls kept coming. Eventually he came to understand that “the voices were telling her terrible things had happened to the children.” While she was able to keep it hidden from the outside world, it was painful for her family. These experiences have given Guess a strong desire to educate the public about mental illness in an effort to eliminate any associated stigma.

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, Elder Service Program Director

     Since interning with DMH in 1985, Lynn Melton, MSW, 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 laughed.
     In 2006, Melton became the Elder Service program coordinator for the Sumter Adult Clinic. The program provides individualized treatment to persons 65 and older suffering from mental illness, as well as to persons of all ages diagnosed with dementia. It currently serves approximately 200 patients.“Age alone does not cause problems. However, as we age, the risk that certain problems may occur increases. Those problems can be changes in health and physical abilities, losses of family and friends, and changes in job and social roles. Poor physical health increases the risk of mental health problems. The skills of our staff and the coordination with primary care physicians enable us to provide the best quality care possible,” Melton said.
     Although the program receives partial funding from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging, budget cuts have made it necessary to reduce elder services available to patients in Sumter and have prevented SWMHC from expanding it to all four counties. Home visits to fully assess this vulnerable population are also needed.
     One thing the budget does not reduce is the level of care and attention Melton and her team provide to their patients. “People who walk into our office know we care from the get-go. We care and we accept them.”

Lanalle Darden, Children, Adolescents and Families (CAF) Director

     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.”

Victoria Sands, ACT Program Coordinator

     Victoria Sands’ first job after graduating from college in 1988 was a trial by fire – serving on SWMHC’s crisis team. Before partnering with Sumter county’s alcohol and drug commission, the Center had a lot of walk-in clients in the midst of a crisis, usually involving addiction. “It was wild back in those days. We stayed busy, busy, busy,” she said. Succeeding that trial, Sands eventually became head of the program. In 2002 she accepted the position of program coordinator for the first Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) team in Sumter County. ACT is based on a nationwide model aimed at helping clients with serious and persistent mental illness lead independent lives within their communities. A team, rather than multiple service providers, cares for those who have not had success with the traditional outpatient model. The goal is to reduce or eliminate debilitating acute episodes that require institutionalization, thereby reducing the economic and societal costs of hospitalization, incarceration, unemployment, and homelessness, and increasing clients’ quality of life. The team provides individualized support to more than 50 clients. Services may include therapy, crisis intervention, transportation, skill-building, supported employment, and supported housing, depending on client needs. “We all know each client well enough that if a case manager isn’t there, we can step right in,” said Sands. Clinicians, a registered nurse, a peer support specialist, and professionals trained in areas of Psychiatry, Social Work, Substance Abuse and Vocational Rehabilitation work together with each client. Sands would like to serve clients outside of Sumter County, but the largely rural geographical area poses transportation challenges. The biggest need, though, according to Sands, is for more housing options that are in a home-like setting with adequate support staffing. Currently, SWMHC has over 200 such placements, yet she estimates 500-700 are still needed.

"Michelle Reeder, Kershaw County Clinic Director

    Michele Reeder, M.Ed. came to South Carolina when she was 18. After studying Anthropology so she could work with gorillas (and decided to pass on this after learning she would have to spend six months in Africa), and then studying pre-med, Reeder found her way to counseling. “And that was it!” she said. “I enjoy the interaction. I enjoy the moment the person ‘gets it’.” Now in her 11th year as the clinic director for Kershaw County Mental Health, Reeder manages a busy clinic with approximately 760 open cases. Most case managers have a case load of 100 to 130 clients. The clinical staff includes a physician, nurse practitioner, and two peer support specialists. The main goal at Kershaw is to provide comprehensive services throughout clients’ recovery process. These services include case management, skills groups, group therapy, individual therapy, and referrals. Kershaw County is mostly rural, and many clients lack health insurance coverage to pay for the services needed to attain and sustain recovery. With limited resources for these clients, Reeder’s vision is to achieve balance. “Our population of seriously, chronically, mentally ill typically don’t have insurance. To balance out that problem we try to get grants and other sources of funding to serve our clients,” she said. Reeder also collaborates with local providers in the county. The clinic shares in the Access Health Grant with the county hospital, and they’ve built a case management program to which all agencies can refer. She also works with the Safe Schools/Healthy Students grant, Vocational Rehabilitation, and shares cases with the Alpha Center. Most days, Reeder is triaging, managing five or six crises that unexpectedly come in for help. And while the work is fast-paced, Reeder and her staff never forget that helping the clients is the most important part of the job.

CARF Accreditation Contact Us
    Sumter Clinic: (803) 775-9364
Sumter CAF: (803) 775-7898
Kershaw  Clinic: (803) 432-5323
Clarendon Clinic: (803) 435-2124
Lee Clinic: (803) 484-9414
 
   
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