10/22/07 — O'Berry gets set for 50th anniversary celebration

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O'Berry gets set for 50th anniversary celebration

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 22, 2007 1:45 PM

O'Berry Center will unveil its new name next month, when it celebrates its 50th anniversary.

The name change -- to O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center -- was approved by the General Assembly in June, reflective of the direction the center is now headed, says Dr. Frank Farrell, O'Berry director since 2005.

Part of the reason for the shift, Farrell said, "is to basically respond to the changing needs of individuals we serve. It reflects our future role to provide specialized medical care."

With an aging population, its array of services is changing, he said. In addition to providing for individuals with developmental disabilities, future admissions will focus on those who are either elderly or medically fragile along with having an intellectual disability.

Three of the state's hospitals have received the new designation, officials said. In addition to O'Berry, the legislature also approved name changes to facilities in Black Mountain and Wilson -- Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center and Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment Center.

Specialized services will now target medical, mental health and developmental services for adults with multiple needs, while aligning facilities and staff to meet those needs.

In an announcement made earlier by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, officials said O'Berry will move to a model of specialized services, with the transition expected to be complete by 2010.

Formal ceremonies celebrating the name change and 50th anniversary are planned for Nov. 7, coinciding with the center's anniversary month.

The staff will celebrate the occasion one day before, with the public invited to be part of several activities throughout the day on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

At 10:30 a.m., a ribbon-cutting is planned for the log cabin, which will become home to the new Berry Towne Crafts, in the pecan grove on campus. It is currently still under construction, but expected to be completed in time for the ceremonies.

The "Peace Pole" dedication will follow at 11, outside the entrance to the chapel, with registration and campus tours offered in the afternoon from 1:30-2:30.

The formal rededication ceremony will take place in the multipurpose building at 2:30 p.m., followed by a reception in the lobby.

Meanwhile, staff and volunteers are working to make the event a special one, said Deborah Exum, assistant to the center director.

Various departments will contribute items that will be buried in a time capsule, and volunteers from the recently formed Ambassadors program are putting together a historical perspective of the past half-century.

"We will have displays in various locations so that people can view things over the past years," she said. "We'll have scrapbooks from each era, a display in the chapel, in the gymnasium, in the administration area."

Much has been collected over the years, but only now is being consolidated into a user-friendly format, she said.

"Eventually, we're hoping that from this history, we will be able to expand that to have more visual items -- wheelchairs, mealtime devices -- that will help people see where we have come from," she said.

"We're excited about this because we know that we can build on this. This is not something that we're just going to do over two days."

It's important to preserve the rich history of O'Berry, Ms. Exum said.

"We want the public to know about the effective work that we do here," she said.