Health Commissioner Appoints New Deputy for Mental Health

For Immediate Release: July 1, 2004

Contact: Vermont Department of Health
Communication Office
802- 863-7281

BURLINGTON – Commissioner of Health Dr. Paul Jarris is pleased to announce the appointment of Susan Wehry, MD, to the newly created position of Deputy Commissioner for Mental Health in the Vermont Department of Health.

“I am very pleased to make this announcement,” Dr. Jarris said. “Susan brings passion, vision and valuable experience to this key new position within the Department of Health.”

Beginning July 1, the Division of Mental Health which includes adult and children’s mental health services and the Vermont State hospital will join public health and alcohol and drug abuse programs in the new Vermont Department of Health. Wehry will lead this new division within the Department of Health and as Deputy Commissioner for Mental Health she will play a key leadership role in the overall management of the department.

“Susan has a very real understanding of the issues facing Vermont’s mental health system,” said Jarris. “Her new responsibilities will include oversight of Vermont’s community mental health system and the State Hospital Futures Project, certification of the Vermont State Hospital, and integration of mental health services with public health and alcohol and drug abuse programs.”

“This is a great opportunity to make a difference and improve the lives of Vermonters,” said Wehry. “I am starting out with an incredible team already in place, as well as a committed citizenry, and I look forward to working with both to address the challenges facing our mental health system.”

“On aspect of our agency reorganization is to better coordinate services across departments,” said Secretary of Human Services Charlie Smith. “Susan already has experience working with two departments in the Agency of Human Services, and I am confident that she is the right person to fully coordinate mental health services throughout the agency.”

“It is a real privilege to accept this position,” Wehry said.

Wehry is an Associate Professor at the UVM College of Medicine. She received her medical degree from the University of Louisville in Kentucky and is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Geriatric Psychiatry. She consults for the departments of Developmental and Mental Health Services and Aging and Disabilities, and from 2003 to 2004, Wehry was Interim Medical Director of the Vermont State Hospital, following the departure of long-time medical director and hospital administrator Dr. Bertold Francke.

Wehry will begin transitioning into her new role as Deputy Commissioner starting on July 1. She will be splitting her time between the Burlington and Waterbury offices.