ATLANTA – Skyland Trail recently announced the permanent endowment of the chief medical officer position in honor of the organization’s founding board member, Charles B. West. The establishment of the endowed position of Charles B. West Chief Medical Officer was made possible with support from a charitable remainder unitrust from the late Mr. and Mrs. West, in addition to support from The West Foundation. The position currently is held by Raymond J. Kotwicki, MD, MPH.The purpose of the endowed position is to provide sustaining support for Skyland Trail’s mental health treatment program and to enable the organization, recognized nationally as a model for evidence-based psychiatric treatment, to continue its leadership and innovation in in the field of mental health care.
“We are incredibly grateful for the gifts from the West family that enabled us to establish this endowed position,” says Beth Finnerty, Skyland Trail president and CEO. “It appropriately recognizes and honors the enduring contributions of our founder, Charles West, and ensures continued excellence in patient care by offering stability through consistent funding. We couldn’t be more thankful.”
The endowed position honors the leadership of founding board chair, Charles B. West. In the early 1980s, West responded to the need of a friend who had an adult daughter with schizophrenia by organizing early supporters and investors to establish a new nonprofit organization. Skyland Trail opened in 1989 with a model of treatment that was groundbreaking in Atlanta and still new to much of the country – one focused on recovery and hope. West’s commitment and service to Skyland Trail continued over more than two decades, contributing directly to the growth of the organization and to improved lives for thousands of adults with mental illness. West passed away July 26, 2013, at the age of 92.
Dr. Kotwicki joined Skyland Trail in 2007 and has been chief medical officer since 2011. As the inaugural Charles B. West Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kotwicki directs the organization’s psychiatric residential and day treatment programs as well as an onsite wellness and primary care clinic. He leads the multidisciplinary treatment team, including five staff psychiatrists, and also oversees the research and outcomes program. Outcomes research conducted at Skyland Trail helps shape national conversations about best practices in community-based psychiatric treatment.
“Charles West helped establish Skyland Trail as an early leader in the delivery of respectful, effective, patient-focused mental health treatment,” says Dr. Kotwicki. “I am honored to be named the inaugural Charles B. West Chief Medical Officer.”