Thank you for including Meg Hibbert’s thorough account of the recent fire at the historic Mt. Regis Treatment Center.
I appreciated seeing a history of this important facility – a resource that has helped thousands of people struggling with recovery from alcohol and drug dependency. It was especially gratifying to see my late father’s name included for his tenure as medical director of White Cross, as it was known back then.
However, I need to correct a bit of the historical record supplied by Mt. Regis. Dr. Robert Paine Jr. did give up his private medical practice in 1967 – but he did so in order to establish a new treatment program at the Veterans’ Administration Hospital in Salem, not White Cross where he had already been serving as medical director.
A long feature story (Jan. 4, 1968) by Roanoke World-News staff writer Margie Fisher gave details of the VA’s innovative program. Launched in early December 1967, it may have been the first such “experiment in alcoholic rehabilitation” in VA medical centers throughout the United States.
Her related story focused on my father’s decision to leave private practice and further devote his life to working with alcoholics and addicts (headline: “Physician Heeds ‘Call of God’ To Do Work With Alcoholics”). He said that his own “spiritual change” about six years prior had compelled him to begin such work – including his already serving as White Cross’ medical director. (I regret that I don’t know “Dr. Bob’s” specific years at White Cross. He stayed on staff at the VA until his retirement.)
I remain proud of his (and my mama’s!) fifty-three years dedicated to helping people fight their demon addictions – whether in White Cross / Mt. Regis, the VA Medical Center, Judge Beverly Fitzpatrick’s Drug Court or the simple rooms of 12-Step programs. Here’s hoping that Mt. Regis is soon back to doing its good work. – Submitted by Emily Carter