Friday, April 22nd marked the Inaugural Richard C. Christensen, MD Memorial Lecture Program and Advocacy Day.
Held at the McKnight Brain Institute, this was an all-day affair to honor and celebrate Dr. Richard Christensen and the extraordinary legacy he created. Dr. Christensen was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Florida. He died unexpectedly on November 26, 2015 while on a Habitat for Humanity build in Zambia. Christensen made it his life’s work to provide psychiatric services to underserved populations through academic-public sector liaisons. He served as the Director of Behavioral Health Services at the Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville, where he oversaw the clinical services in two psychiatry clinics, participating in psychiatric street outreach work and teaching medical students and resident physicians.
The event began at the Hilton with a special breakfast including a number of faculty, community members and residents to join and hear from our Visiting Professor and Grand Rounds speaker, Kim Mueser, PhD.
The event then moved to the McKnight Brain Institute for a reception open to the public. This was an opportunity for guests to pay their respects and share memories of their interactions with Dr. Christensen. Guests were also invited to participate in assembling manna bags to be donated to GRACE Marketplace and St. Francis House.
Opening remarks were made by Michael Good, MD, Dean of the College of Medicine. Following Dr. Good, a few of Dr. Christensen’s colleagues shared memories with the crowd. Dr. Christensen’s wife Kathy Christensen, shared heart felt remarks about the life and career of Dr. Christensen. Kathy Christensen was presented with a gift of a beautiful chair from the Department of Psychiatry with an inscription that read “In memory of Richard C. Christensen, MD beloved educator, colleague, physician, and philanthropist. Forever grateful for your contributions. You are a true instrument of peace. UF Department of Psychiatry”
The guests then participated in assembling the manna bags. These manna bags were important to Dr. Christensen and his mission to deliver healthcare and compassion to the homeless population with which he worked. Attendees were able make a bag that would be donated. This gave those attendees unfamiliar with the concept a chance to learn about the bags, how to make them and how they will be distributed to those who need them. Each bag contained items that would be useful to the recipients of the bags. They included items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, new socks, snacks, and a Gainesville Street Card, which provides information on the various health care, shelter and meal services offered to those who need them.
Dr. Kim Mueser, Executive Director for the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University, gave a lecture on “Illness Management and Recovery: An Introduction and Research Update” following the reception.
Dr. Mueser’s talk on Illness Management and Recovery was exactly what Dr. Christensen wanted for the annual Advocacy Day. He had invited Dr. Mueser for the event, and this was one of the last things he did for us to ensure the success of the program. We were proud to carry out his wishes.
-Jacqueline Hobbs, MD, PhD, DFAPA
Donations can be made to the Richard C Christensen, MD Visiting Lecture Fund by visiting the UF Foundation