New Gifts Support Mental Health at Weinberg Center

December 22, 2022

Patients at the Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center will have a new source of psychiatric support, thanks to a pair of gifts made to the Center’s endowment. The Weinberg Center is a medical home for cerebral palsy (CP) patients, providing comprehensive care from adolescence through adulthood. With a lead gift from Sue and David Viniar, the Center continues to expand its care offerings to meet patients’ needs.

The Viniars’ generous gift was extended by a matching gift from Debby and Peter Weinberg. Together, the two gifts provide permanent support for a part-time psychiatrist who will be able to prescribe and treat patients at the Center with mental health needs. The gifts enable the appointment of psychiatrist Jessica Dodge, MD who will be joining the Center in January 2023. Dr. Dodge has specialized interests in the mental health treatment of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. This appointment builds on the Center’s existing mental health offerings, as Weinberg Center patients already have access to therapy and support group services provided by Minnelly Vasquez, LCSW, who joined the center in 2021.

For Sue Viniar, an Advisory Board member at the Weinberg Center, supporting the Center’s priorities in taking care of the whole person motivated her to provide this gift. “Mental health and physical health are deeply connected,” said Sue, “Our hope is for patients to have the care they need to improve their quality of life in all aspects.”

The Center's Clinical Director, Dr. Joshua Hyman explains further, “Children and adults with CP often have mental health issues such as anxiety and depression that can be linked to common effects of CP such as pain and fatigue. Additionally, external factors such as social experiences, accessibility, and medication side effects may also impact their psychological wellbeing.” He adds, “It is important that the mental health of a person with cerebral palsy is evaluated from a holistic inclusive perspective.”

The combination of therapy and psychiatric care gives the Weinberg Center a fully-featured mental wellness program. As a permanent part of the Center’s care environment, this program will operate from a place of understanding. Knowing where patients are coming from, and how their mental health intersects with their CP and related health concerns, should provide reciprocal benefits that strengthen patient outcomes in more than one area.