Longtime Wake Forest Baptist Psychiatrist Honored

January 12, 2009

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – A geriatric mental health award has been established in honor of Deirdre Johnston, M.D., who worked at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center for many years and served as the inspiration for the establishment of the Kate Mills Snider Geriatric Outreach (GO) Program at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

The GMHF/AAGP Deirdre Johnston Award for Excellence and Innovation in Geriatric Mental Health Outreach Services is administered through the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation (GMHF) and the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP). It was established by Arnold H. Snider to honor the care provided by Johnston to his mother, Kate Mills Snider. Snider also provided the funding support for the GO Program, a collaborative outreach service that offers mental health care to seniors who need it to their homes.

The first recipient of the award is the Service Program for Older People, Inc. of New York City.

While in the department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine of Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Johnston was chief of the section on Geriatric Psychiatry, and director of forensic psychiatry services. While jointly appointed on faculty at the school of medicine and on the medical staff of the W.G. “Bill” Hefner Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salisbury, she established an interdisciplinary outpatient clinic to assist homebound veterans with dementia and their families. She has published several textbook chapters on psychiatric services for the elderly.

She is now an assistant professor of psychiatry in the division of Neuropsychiatry and Memory Disorders Group of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Burton Reifler, M.D., a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, serves as the chair of the Johnston Award selection committee and is a member of the GMHF board of directors. He also serves as director of the GO Program, which has provided evaluation and treatment for more than 100 patients with complex psychiatric and medical problems. He will be presenting the findings from this initial group at the AAGP’s annual meeting in March.

In addition to clinical service, the GO Program assists patients and their families in accessing the many community resources available to the elderly population. For eligibility and other information, Melissa Smith, program coordinator, can be reached at (336) 716-0690.


Media Relations Contacts: Bonnie Davis, bdavis@wfubmc.edu, (336) 716-4977; or Mark Wright, mwright@wfubmc.edu, at (336) 716-4587.

Media Relations

: news@wakehealth.edu, 336-713-4587