Thank you for 25 years

Published 12:26 pm Monday, May 4, 2020

The doors are all closed now. The patients are all gone. The staff members have all scattered. Per order of top administration and with reportedly unanimous approval of the board of trustees, St. Luke’s Hospital (SLH)’s Center of Behavioral Medicine (CBM), or inpatient geriatric psychiatry program, was officially and permanently shut down on April 17th after 25 years of service to thousands upon thousands upon thousands of citizens in need across all of North Carolina (including our local region) and adjoining states. Truly quite sad. Surely a quarter of a century of around the clock blood, sweat, and tears (figuratively and literally) deserved better than an unceremonious “pulling of the plug,” especially a “pulling of the plug” at the beginning of a pandemic event destined to relegate the closure event to the status of (at best) a vague and distant afterthought. To be clear: the closure decision was made before the onset of the pandemic event.

A certain unmistakable irony exists, though, in this more or less “invisible” conclusion. Mental illness itself, after all, still sadly remains largely “invisible” in modern society in the sense that many people prefer not to see it due to the discomfort involved. Not only does mental illness exist, though, but statistics confirm that its prevalence is growing. All the more alarming, then, that treatment facilities, such as SLH’s CBM, are shutting down.

Here’s a sincere and huge THANK YOU to all the many St. Luke’s Hospital Center of Behavioral Medicine staff members over the years who gave so much of themselves in service to others. “Not for the faint of heart” represents a gross understatement regarding the duties they routinely handled. No heroes pay involved, for sure. Still, they went above and beyond to deliver a personal touch and a feeling of home. Patients and family members noticed and will always remember. More than a job, a calling. More than a collection of co-workers, a family.

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Even if space allowed (it doesn’t) to list all the many great SLH CBM staff members’ names, they wouldn’t prefer such public recognition. They did it for others and not themselves. Still, it wouldn’t seem right to neglect mentioning how the program couldn’t possibly have done all the great work it did without the leadership provided throughout the years by Dr. Belynda Veser, Dr. Robert Ratcliffe, and Sharon Summey RN, who each invested all of themselves in the operation.

The chances are that you (or someone you know) knew someone who worked there and/or someone who received service there. It’s not too late to express thanks and let them know that their good work won’t be forgotten. Send an email to


Stephen Cefalu, Licensed Clinical Social Worker

St. Luke’s Hospital’s Center of Behavioral Medicine