After 44 years, Dr. Jan Freeman, director of integrated care and behavioral health, is retiring.
Administrators and RHG board members will honor her at the April 29 board meeting and remember her for her mantra — “All healthcare is behavioral.”
Freeman spent 44 years in the community with the Halifax County Mental Health Center and in private practice, the last 12 with Rural Health Group.
RHG CEO Yvonne Long-Gee said of the longtime psychologist: “Dr. Freeman was instrumental in helping the Rural Health Group team recognize the real impact medical professionals have on the lives of the patients we serve. Under her leadership, Rural Health Group integrated behavioral health into primary care. Out of this integration came team-based care and Cultural Sensitivity & Lenses of Perception training.”
Ronald Hughes, chief medical officer for RHG, said, “Jan has been a teacher, a mentor and an ‘encourager’ to Rural Health Group’s primary care providers. She taught us to consider social, economic and racial factors that influence the behaviors and ultimately the healthcare of the patients that we treat. This global approach guides the outcome of all treatment plans that we recommend.”
As an only child growing up in an itinerant Army family, Freeman settled in Halifax County and made it her home and made it her mission to become an advocate for social justice and change in the community.
She authored two grants which have provided funds for local domestic violence programs, served as the past president of the Hannah’s Place board, which oversees a domestic violence emergency shelter for women and children, authored a mini-grant to the North Carolina Council on the Status of Women to fund community-wide presentations on sexual assault, and served as a member of the Region L Critical Incident Stress Debriefing Team.
“She has been an integral and incredible force in the development of integrated behavioral health services for our organization and community,” said Nancy Rodgers, RHG’s director of human resources. “She is known locally, statewide and nationally for her groundbreaking work in this arena. Her compassion for social justice was evidenced in all aspects of her work. She has truly changed the landscape in the counties where she lives and worked.”
Freeman plans to continue her civic and church work in retirement.
“Jan has touched so many lives through her professional roles as well as her community and church affiliations,” coworker Regina Schaaf Dickens said. “I am so glad she came, so glad she stayed, and so glad she has been part of my own personal and professional growing seasons.”