BUCKHANNON – It was beginning to look a lot like there wouldn’t be much of a Christmas at the Welch Community Hospital in McDowell County.
But thanks to a festive donation from the West Virginia office of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance – headquartered right here in Buckhannon – patients at the hospital will be able to say, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.”
Diana Thompson, executive director of DBSA state office, said the assistant director of William R. Sharpe Jr. Hospital in Weston, Michelle Markovich, had asked DBSA-WV to collect donations of Christmas decorations – trees, wreaths, ornaments, strings of lights and more – for its sister hospital, the Welch Community Hospital.
Both Sharpe and WCH are state hospitals that operate under the umbrella of the W.Va. Department of Health and Human Resources.
Markovich told Thompson Christmas decorations at WCH had been destroyed by recent flooding.
Thompson was happy to help, so the DBSA-WV office on Marion Street became a drop-off location for Christmas décor donated by Buckhannon and Upshur County residents. And on Monday, employees from Sharpe stopped by the DBSA office to pick up the decorations, which were then transported to WCH in the southern part of the state.
“Michelle Markovich, who is the assistant director at Sharpe, and also on the board of directors of DBSA, had asked us if we’d be willing to collect donations of Christmas decorations for [the Welch Community Hospital] because all of their decorations had been destroyed in the floods,” Thompson said Monday, “so, we said, ‘yes, we’ll be happy to help out.’”
Welch Community Hospital is the only acute care hospital in McDowell county and provides critical medical services to people living in McDowell and surrounding rural counties, according to information on the DHHR’s website.
Markovich, the assistant director of Sharpe Hospital, a 150-bed acute psychiatric care hospital in Lewis County, said the donation would perhaps provide some small comfort to patients who wind up in the hospital in the late December days leading up to Christmas.
“Partnering together can create a bridge anywhere in the state, and this is a way to help residents feel like home in the hospital,” Markovich said. “Partnering with DBSA-WV, a community organization, and William R. Sharpe Hospital is a way to do that.”
Forging partnerships with healthcare centers like Sharpe and WCH is also essential to DBSA-WV achieving one of its primary goals – the distribution of information about available resources for people suffering from mental illnesses and addiction to controlled substances, Thompson said.
“It’s a way for us to get our peer-to-peer support information out across the state,” Thompson said. “People that come to these mental health hospitals are not just from the community, but they’re from all over the state, and so when family members come or the patients themselves leave the hospital, then they can take the DBSA information out with them.
“We can’t reach every single person in the state,” Thompson added, “but if our literature gets out, and somebody calls us, then they can ask for information. There might not be a support group in their area, but hopefully the literature will help give them some knowledge that they didn’t have previously.”
That information is available every Monday through Friday at the DBSA office, located at 61 Marion St., from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. when the office hosts Brown Bag by the Bridge. Brown Bag by the Bridge is a daily event that encourages people with mood disorders to stop in, enjoy some free coffee or bottled water and receive support from peers who have experienced the same difficulties with which they’re contending.
After all, DBSA-WV’s motto is, “We’ve been there. We can help.”
For more information about mental health or addiction-related resources, visit www.dbsawv.org or call or text 1-844-HELP4WV (1-844-435-7498); information is also accessible at help4wv.com.