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1962-1976 The Peterson Years

quest for a cure splash title

1851: The New Asylum

1945: Patients Over Politics

1960: Ending Segregation

1930-1970: Hospital Staff

1962-1976: The Peterson Years

1962-1976: The Peterson Years

Dr. Donald Peterson became superintendent of the hospital in 1961. A former military psychiatrist, he treated mental illness aggressively and systematically. Concern for patient welfare guided his strict management style and demand for organization and accountability that initially met with negative reaction from the staff. Soon, though, they came to share his objective that all patients have the best possible chance at living a full life after their release. Working closely with Department of Mental Health director George Ulett, Peterson tirelessly promoted expanded patient services at Fulton and regularly visited the state legislature to advocate his cause. At the same time, new treatments reduced hospitalization time and enabled patients to manage mental illness better at home.

"The main thing I see wrong here is there doesn't seem to be enough incentive or reward for doing a good job. . . There's no way to do an outstanding job and get ahead; there are some dedicated people here, others are here just for a job and their check, with no interest in the patients' welfare; but if you fire a man like that, you just have to hire another man just like him."

A hospital attendant, 1964

Administration Building, c. 1960
Administration Building, c. 1960
Missouri State Archives

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