Western Mental Health Institute Psychiatrist Named Employee of the Year

Thursday, April 07, 2016 | 12:30pm

NASHVILLE – Dr. Kevin Turner has been named Employee of the Year, an honor presented by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The annual commendation is the third consecutive for an associate at Western Mental Health Institute located in Bolivar, Tennessee.

“Dr. Turner reflects our mission of serving others, patients as well as staff, without hesitation to meet their needs, whatever the situation may be,” said CEO Roger Pursley, Western Mental Health Institute. “We are honored to have members of our staff, these past three years, recognized for their dedication to Tennesseans who struggle with mental health issues.”

Since joining Western in 1996 as a staff psychiatrist, Dr. Turner went on to serve as Clinical Director from 1997 to 2004. Following a brief absence, he returned to Western in 2009 to assume that role. All total, he has nearly two decades of service with the State of Tennessee and a combined 30 years of experience in psychiatric medicine.

“I was first attracted to psychiatry during my psych rotation in medical school,” said Turner. “Although I had an interest in medicine since my 

early college years, I pictured myself doing general medicine. However, observing patients improve with modern psychiatric interventions seemed miraculous, akin to the movie ‘Awakenings’ in which immobile patients became active.”

Upon completing his medical degree at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and a residency at the University of Southern California Medical Center, Dr. Turner received his board certification in general psychiatry in 2004.

 “When I arrive at work each day, my mission is to improve the lives of others,” said Dr. Turner. “The practice of psychiatry is my passion and as I move into the latter phases of my career I have found that teaching and passing on skills to students, less experienced clinicians, has enhanced what has been a gratifying life experience.”

Over the course of his many years of practice, Dr. Turner reflects on one situation which stands out, involving a female patient who suffered from chronic depression with suicidal tendencies.

”After 2-3 years of multiple treatment regimens she walked into my office one day announcing she was free of depression and enjoying life,” said Dr. Turner. “This and other experiences have given me great satisfaction and the sense that all the labor and continuous dedication it takes to acquire and maintain the skills to practice psychiatry is worth it.”

Dr. Turner is encouraged that there are effective treatments that can help those suffering from mental illnesses. “Helping others makes me realize how blessed I am and helps me realize that whatever troubles I may have personally, there is hope and usually a good solution.”

“Congratulations to Dr. Turner for this well-deserved recognition,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. “His commitment to his patients and colleagues at the Western Mental Health Institute is exemplary, and we thank him for his outstanding 20 years of service.”

Earlier this year Western Mental Health Institute was notified it had earned the Gold Seal of Approval® from The Joint Commission. The recognition is the third consecutive year the Western institute has achieved Top Performer status. The acknowledgement symbolizes a high degree of quality, reflecting a commitment to providing safe and effective care.

Runners-up for the Department’s Employee of the Year honor include: John Gonzales from Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute in Chattanooga, Brenda Wiles from Memphis Mental Health Institute, and Sam Ejiofer from Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute in Nashville.

Western Mental Health Institute serves individuals in a 24 county region of the state.  It is one of four Regional Mental Health Institutes in Tennessee, providing inpatient behavioral health services for adults. In 2015, Western Mental Health Institute had 1,009 admissions. 

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