07/16/04 — Edwards will hold new post until retirement

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Edwards will hold new post until retirement

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 16, 2004 1:58 PM

Jerry Edwards, who has served as director of Cherry Hospital for seven years, will retire in February.

The hospital has undergone a consolidation with O'Berry Center. Before Edwards retires he will serve as community consultant with the Community Policy Management Section of the state Division of Mental Health.

He will be helping community mental health programs meet state changes in mental health services. His primary focus will be the eastern region's rural character and its lack of private mental health services.

Edwards has served 33 years in the mental health field. He began his career as the first full-time administrator for the Wayne County Mental Health Center.

During his tenure, he secured grants to renovate the second floor of the old Wayne Memorial Hospital building. He also obtained federal money to staff the programs of the center, including enhancing the child and adult mental health programs, expanding the substance abuse programs and starting a program for people with mental retardation.

After 22 years with Wayne County, he was promoted to chief of mental health services for the state. His efforts were geared toward working on policies and guidelines for treating individuals with co-occurring disorders of substance abuse and mental illness and for serving people with mental illness and legal issues.

He returned to Cherry Hospital after three years with the state division. In the seven and a half years as director at Cherry, he says, his administration's focus has been quality of care.

He said he takes pride in the hospital remaining certified and accredited under increasingly more stringent standards, saying it led the way in the areas of performance improvement, reduced use of seclusion and restraints, tele-medicine, enhanced continuing education programs for staff and increased active treatment programs for patients.

Edwards has spent his last year as hospital director working in developing the consolidation of Cherry Hospital and O'Berry Center. The two hospitals had been together from 1880 until being separated in 1957. With state downsizing plans, the merger was introduced to address the changing size and nature of both hospitals.

Edwards says he looks forward to retirement as a time to travel, enjoy boating and work on home projects. He said he also plans to explore part-time college teaching and consulting, something he has done in the past.

"I have been indeed blessed with a rewarding career and I look forward to new challenges that retirement will make possible," he said.