Cullman Regional gives update on Stephen K. Griffith Memorial Fund

Fund honors memory and supports mental health services for Cullman citizens

The Steven K. Griffith Memorial Fund Committee Members and Advisors recently posed in front one of the newly designed R.E. Garrison Trucking, Inc. trucks to promote this initiative. Pictured left to right: Shay Persall, Charna Brown, Steve Donaldson, Dr. Tom “Big Doc” Williamson, Steve Glasscock and Shawn Nelson. Not pictured are Fess St. John and Jeb Williamson.

The Stephen K. Griffith Memorial Fund was established in June 2018 to honor the memory of Stephen K. Griffith and to expand mental health services in Cullman County.

The Fund was established by Steve’s wife Jackie, son Wyles (Brandy) Griffith and daughter, Sarah Frances (Donovon) Lovell. Steve was taken from us too soon as a direct result of the mental health crisis in our community. He was killed July 17, 2017 by a man the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office deemed mentally unstable. Through this fund, the Griffith family hopes to raise mental health awareness and fill the tremendous gap in mental health care services available in our community.

Steve was a husband, father, grandfather, friend, mentor and great contributor to the community. In the spirit of his generosity, the Griffith Family established this Fund to continue his legacy and seeks to honor his memory by helping address the mental health crisis in the Cullman community, especially among the indigent population.

The Fund is a part of Garrison Gives Hope, Inc., a nonprofit corporation.  The Stephen K. Griffith Memorial Fund Committee Members are Steve Donaldson, Steve Glasscock, Shawn Nelson, Shay Persall and Dr. Tom “Big Doc” Williamson.  There are also three Fund Committee Member Advisors: Charna Brown, medical advisor; Fess St. John, legal advisor; and Jeb Williamson, accounting advisor.  All are operating on a volunteer basis.

“The goal of the Fund is to assist Cullman County citizens who are struggling with mental illness and are unable to afford mental health treatment,” said Glasscock.

“At Cullman Regional, we are consistently working to provide the best care we can for the patients coming to us.  Unfortunately for mental health patients, the resources available, particularly for those without insurance, are limited,” Cullman Regional Chief Nursing Officer Charna Brown, RN said.  “In 2018, Cullman Regional’s emergency department provided medical care to more than 1,000 behavioral health patients.  Many of these patients return for additional care due to the lack of resources available to provide adequate ongoing follow-up treatment.  The Stephen K. Griffith Foundation is working closely with Cullman Regional in order to make sure patients who need behavioral health care have access to the care they need.”

2017 Alabama mental health statistics —

According to the Alabama Department of Mental Health 2017 Annual Report:

  • 106,740 people sought treatment for mental illness in Alabama
  • The State of Alabama only has 2,775 inpatient psychiatric treatment beds available throughout the state, many of which will not accept patients without insurance. State facilities, which typically are the only facilities that treat the uninsured, only treated 857 patients in 2017.

According Mental Health America 2017 State Mental Health Access Data:

  • On average, 21% of adults with mental illness in Alabama are uninsured. Statistically speaking, that means more than 20,000 people did not receive adequate inpatient treatment.
  • Alabama ranks 50 out of 51 for access to mental health services for patients.

2018 Cullman County Mental Health statistics:

  • According to Cullman Regional, 1,027 people sought mental health treatment in Cullman Regional’s Emergency Department in 2018.
  • Nearly 30% of patients seeking treatment were unable to obtain care due to lack of insurance or inability to pay for care.

“These numbers are indeed startling; however, what’s even more startling,” Glasscock said, “is that these are just the people who are seeking care or have been mandated to receive care.”

According to Mental Health America 2017 State Mental Health Access Data, 54% of adults (382,000) with mental illness in Alabama did not receive treatment in 2017.

The Fund hosts several fundraisers throughout the year and gratefully accepts individual and/or corporate donations in any amount.  Contributions can be mailed to: The Stephen K. Griffith Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1544, Cullman, AL 35056-1544 (EIN: 83-2471932). If you have questions about the Fund, call Meagan Tucker at 256-255-5547.