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Letters to the Editor
Tribute to Dr. Hammersley
Psychiatric News
Volume 42 Number 20 page 22-25

Having recently been jolted by discovering, while reading the September 21 issue, that Dr. Don Hammersley had died, I thought I would take this opportunity to recognize him and others who have contributed to the success of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists (AACP).

At the time I was looking to launch the AACP (1984), Don was an APA deputy medical director. He graciously provided APA resources to conduct a national survey of psychiatrists working in community mental health centers regarding their perceived need for an association separate from APA. Don's feeling was that we would be better off as an independent entity functioning outside APA but impacting upon it, rather than trying to function as a component within APA. He thought that we would more likely be able to achieve our goals as a separate entity than as an APA component, which would necessarily be constrained by the bureaucracy and politics of the parent organization. He was correct, and so was spawned the AACP, which has developed largely independent of APA, but which has also collaborated with APA and other national associations and organizations regarding multiple initiatives. Don was a behind-the-scenes kind of guy who made sure the interstices were well lubricated.

I want to take this opportunity both to thank Don for his seminal contribution to the AACP and, briefly, to recognize some others who have also been key to its success. Two APA presidents, Drs. John Talbot and Carol Nadelson, provided supportive advice in the gestational phase of the AACP, and a third APA president, Dr. Paul Fink, secured a critical APA Board vote in AACP's infancy that essentially ratified the AACP's guidelines for psychiatric practice in community mental health settings. The central part of these guidelines is a model job description for a community mental health center medical director that ties medical/legal responsibility to commensurate authority.

While many deserve recognition for their extraordinary contributions to the AACP, I want to make particular mention of the presidents who have carried the torch since my tenure as founding president. This organization could not have survived, let alone thrived as it has, without the continued vision and commitment of Drs. Cliff Tennison, Mickey Silver, Charlie Huffine, Jackie Feldman, and Wes Sowers. These presidents epitomize the "flaming idealist" mentality and mover-and-shaker activist approach that are pronounced attributes of so many of the AACP's members. For example, Dr. Wes Sowers, the AACP's current president, was the progenitor of the AACP's highly useful and successful LOCUS (Level of Care Utilization System) and CALOCUS (Child/Adolescent Level of Care Utilization System), and he relentlessly continues to work in various homeless shelters and other underprivileged settings.

While I have not been actively involved with the AACP for a number of years, due to a change in the focus of my psychiatric practice, I remain very proud of what the AACP has contributed and continues to contribute to the field. I am sure that Don was also quietly proud of what he helped create.

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