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O'Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center

Governor's Award for Excellence

O’Berry is proud to employ several winners of the coveted Governor’s Award of Excellence, the highest honor that the Governor bestows.

2014 Winner (Customer Service):  Joe Finley, Speech Pathologist


2013 Winner (Customer Service):  Heather Lewis, Therapeutic Recreation Specialist


2012 Winner (Human Relations):  Rick Wagner, Teacher


2011 Winner (Human Relations):  Roeshyn Ward, Health Care Technician I


2010 Winner (Human Relations): Mr. Jonathan Hall, Health Care Technician I


2009 Winner (Safety & Heroism): Mary Garner and Versa Stevens, Health Care Technician I’s


2008 Winner: Tracy Dawson, Health Care Technician

Driven to go the extra mile, Tracy Dawson demonstrates exceptional commitment to the residents of O’Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center. She believes the individuals that she supports deserve a rich and diverse quality of life that celebrates person-centered planning. That belief shines through in her work as a Health Care Technician and her drive to do the very best for the people that she serves.

Two years ago, Dawson was assigned to one of the center’s most challenging group homes – a home for those who are profoundly developmentally disabled and also exhibit serious psychiatric and medical issues. One individual in this home, Watson, has a particularly challenging and unusual combination of conditions; along with being developmentally disabled, he is also bipolar. Manic episodes render Watson physically agitated and in constant motion, resulting in his inability to eat or drink. In the past, dehydration resulted in extended hospitalization requiring heavy sedation and intensive care to allow him to break the manic cycle.

Working with Watson, Dawson began to understand that his limited verbal skills require special treatment and she stays constantly in tune with the smallest changes in his behavior. This increased awareness has been instrumental in reducing the severity and length of Watson’s manic episodes. One major enhancement Dawson has made in Watson’s life is devising and implementing a technique to ensure adequate hydration, a technique the facility now uses with other individuals.

According to his physicians, Dawson’s devotion to Watson H. has prevented his manic episodes from escalating and has lessened his suffering. Tracy Dawson showed compassion and creative thinking, greatly enhancing the quality of life of Watson and other individuals at O’Berry Neuro-Medical Treatment Center.

2007 Winner: James Atkinson, Human Relations, Health Care Technician

James Atkinson began working at O’Berry Center in 1996. A year later, his supervisor asked him if he would work exclusively with an individual named Tim. Tim came to O’Berry in 1965 at the age of 6.  He arrived at the Center with profound intellectual disabilities and a seizure disorder; his life was further complicated by severe visual impairments, an extremely unsteady gait, and limited communication skills. For over 30 years, Tim presented the staff with many challenges and was often described as defiant, restless, and self injurious.

As James worked closely with Tim, he discovered Tim was attempting to communicate many things nonverbally. He learned that Tim’s head positions told a lot about his mood and what he wanted.  With James’ insight and care, Tim’s life improved significantly and his frequent self-inflicted injuries faded into history. 

After years of working with Tim, helping other staff members recognize how Tim communicated, and watching Tim’s quality of life blossom, James felt compelled to help other individuals who had special needs.  With conflicting feelings, he transferred to another group home, but made a personal commitment to keep in contact with Tim by becoming a Campus Friend.  Shortly after the transfer, James became ill and was diagnosed with leukemia. While he was on extended leave receiving treatment, he was informed that Tim had been hospitalized and was diagnosed with terminal renal failure. At the risk of his own health, James went to Tim’s side at the hospital.  While James was still out on leave, he requested a transfer back to Tim’s group home so that he could continue to provide care and companionship to Tim during his final days.  Although Tim’s health continues to deteriorate, he has James close by to support and care for him.

James’ outstanding contributions toward enhancing Tim’s quality of life clearly demonstrate the true meaning of human relations. 

2006 Winner: Mr. Curtis Graham, Health Care Technician II

Curtis Graham stands out above the rest in his role as a Health Care Technician at O’Berry Center.  This is not an easy achievement, because our Health Care Technicians are committed to providing the highest level of care for the individuals who live at O’Berry.  Because of the exceptional manner in which Curtis responds to the most difficult behaviors displayed by individuals who live here, he is the first technician that unit administrators think of when assigning an employee to work with these individuals.

This past year, our Center has become home to an increased number of individuals with volatile behavior issues.  Dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental illness, these individuals respond with violent outbursts, kicking, hitting, biting, and continually attempting elopement. Under Curtis’ guidance, these individuals have greatly improved their ability to modify these behaviors. Arriving out of control, they will stabilize quickly under his gentle and unfailingly positive direction.  Even under the most challenging situations, Curtis never raises his voice but maintains an easy going manner that individuals respond to intuitively. 

Over the years, Curtis Graham has been very influential in helping individuals with behavior issues transition back into the community. Of those individuals who have come to the center over the past year, already one has successfully returned to the community and several others are approaching this important milestone.  His ability to successfully implement the plan of care developed for these individuals has been crucial to this transition. In addition, his willingness to go the extra mile when working with the home in the community during this transition has helped to increase these successful placements.  Not only does he travel with the individual who is being placed into a new home, Curtis sometimes remains at the home for days to help ease the transition for that individual. He has willingly and unselfishly dedicated the extra hours needed to ensure the success of the plan of care for these individuals. 

Curtis Graham is respected by all:  his peers, management, and most importantly by the developmental disabled individuals who live at O’Berry Center.  We have one dual diagnosed individual who is insistent that his mentoring and guidance be provided by Curtis over other talented Health Care Technicians assigned to the area.  Curtis is an employee who is always supportive of the team decisions and eager to provide input to ensure a successful plan of care.  His level of skill and quality of service are known throughout the campus.  Curtis is routinely called upon by other clusters when help is needed on behavior intervention.  His intervention is always received as non-threatening by individuals who live at O’Berry.  Many times he can intervene in a behavior situation without having to use more restrictive interventions that technicians are taught to use in the North Carolina Intervention (NCI) training. 

Curtis also serves as an excellent role model and mentor to newly hired Health Care Technicians.  New employees thrive under his guidance, effectively acclimating to the home, its individuals, and O’Berry Center.  On days when he is shift leader, the home always operates like a group home supervisor was present. 

Curtis Graham’s outstanding contributions to the advancement of service offered to individuals who live O’Berry Center reflect a credit to him, the Center, and the State of North Carolina.  His level of excellence, his continual unselfish devotion to duty, and his extraordinary level of commitment to the developmentally disabled individuals who live at O’Berry Center build upon the high principles we strive to maintain at O’Berry, DHHS, and within the State of North Carolina.