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Our Staff

Our Staff

Meet Our Team

Meet the dedicated professionals behind the programs we offer at Laurel Heights Hospital. Our staff are passionate about offering comprehensive, compassionate care for young people who are in need of guidance and support.

Vanderlyn A. Sewell, M.D.

Vanderlyn A. Sewell, M.D.

Medical Director

Board Certified Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist

Education & Training: Emory University Medical Center, UCLA/San Fernando Valley Psychiatric Program, LSU Medical Center

Professional Affiliations & Memberships: Volunteer Faculty and Education Policy and Program Evaluation Committee Member for Emory University School of Medicine, American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Volunteer Faculty Morehouse School of Medicine

Experience: Viewpoint Health Medical Director, Devereaux, Hillside, Summit Ridge Hospital of Director of Adolescent Program, Anchor Hospital Psychiatrist, Oasis Counseling Outpatient Psychiatrist

Smitha Battula, M.D.

Smitha Battula, M.D.

Board Certified Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and Adult Psychiatry

Education: Case Western Reserve University, Metro Health Medical Center, VA Medical Center in D.C.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships: American Psychiatric Association, Ohio Psychiatric Physicians Association-Advocacy Representative, Andhra Pradesh Medical Council, India

Experience: Current Psychiatrist of Rainbow Kids Clinic in Marietta, Georgia, Albany Area Community Service Board

Ranjan Avasthi, M.D.

Ranjan Avasthi, M.D.

Board Certified in Child & Adolescent Psychiatry and General Psychiatry

Education & Training: Medical College of Georgia, Morehouse School of Medicine, Memorial Health University Medical Center, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine

Professional Affiliations & Memberships: American Psychiatric Association, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Georgia Psychiatric Physicians Association, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatric and Adult Psychiatry at Medical College of Georgia of Georgia Regents University, Adjunct Professor of General & Pediatric Psychiatry at Morehouse School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program

Experience: Attending Psychiatrist at Southern Crescent Behavioral Health System, Pediatric and Adult Psychiatrist for Transitional Family Services, Attending Physician at Georgia Regional Hospital

Our Leadership Team

Patrick McDaniel

CEO: Patrick McDaniel   

For over twenty years, Patrick has devoted his professional life to improving the lives of children with prominent mental health disorders in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. He has mentored leadership teams at acute and residential psychiatric hospitals across the Southeast to be positive, honest and innovative role models for their own teams in delivering quality care. Patrick and his wife are dedicated to their children and may be found encouraging their daughter at a track meet at the University of South Florida or supporting their son as completes his BA in Nursing.

Chief Financial Officer: Johnta Johnson, CPA

Chief Financial Officer: Johnta Johnson, CPA      

Before joining the leadership team at Laurel Heights Hospital, Johnta spent time working within other behavioral health hospitals in Georgia and Tennessee. He obtained his accounting degree from Trevecca Nazarene University and enjoys traveling, reading, visiting family and watching professional sporting events in his free time.

Chief Operating Officer: Corey Jackson

Corey is a graduate of Winston-Salem State University with a degree in Rehabilitation Studies with years of experience working with trauma, developmental disabilities, substance abuse, sexually reactive, and aggressive youth. Corey joined the senior management team at Laurel Heights in October of 2019. He is a certified instructor of Crisis Protection Intervention, Handle with Care, Verbal De-escalation, psycho drama facilitation, and is a Residential Child and Youth Care Professional facilitator through the University of Oklahoma.

Sandra Newsum

Human Resources Director: Saundra Newsum  

Saundra brings 25 years of HR experience from banking, manufacturing and technology industries to her role, and has dedicated her professional life to Laurel Heights Hospital for the past 19 years. She enjoys spending time with family and friends, and teaching her granddaughter to be an exceptional person with multifaceted skills. With a B.A. in music, Saundra also is an accomplished singer.

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Chief Nursing Officer: Rhonda Ellison, RN      

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Director of Risk Management: Mary Moore

Admissions Director: Molly Murphy, LMSW

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Director of Education/Principal: Susan F. Funderburk, Ed.D

Susan has been with Laurel Heights Hospital for four years. She holds an undergraduate degree from Clemson University, and a Doctorate from University of Georgia. She is certified by the Georgia Professional Standards and the Department of Education for South Carolina in the fields of elementary education, middle grades education, special education and educational supervision. Susan retired from the Georgia public school system with 35 years of experience as a teacher and a leader, and has been involved in promoting positive legislation in the state of Georgia for children with disabilities. Additionally, Susan has taught at the collegiate level, and worked to encourage positive behavioral change education. Her favorite thing to do is spend time with her husband and nine grandchildren.

Petruska Bryant-Levert

Therapeutic Foster Care Director: Petruska Bryant-Levert       

Petruska has been a creative force leading the therapeutic foster care department for the past two years. Her sensitivity and devotion to children’s welfare is obvious to all who know her. Her prior experience managing a group home, being a supervisor for CASA and starting a foster care program have benefited Laurel Heights Hospital in her leadership. She can be found visiting residents at nursing homes or buying gifts for children of inmates in her free time.

Sonya Rice

Business Development Director: Sonya Rice, MBA

Sonya has seven years of experience in working with community mental health providers and with families, and once held a similar leadership position at Lake Bridge Hospital. She and her team are passionate about offering suicide prevention training and verbal de-escalation training, and creating autism-friendly environments. Her interests include design, animal rights and creative writing.

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Executive Assistant: Cheryl Wright

With over 25 years of experience managing the office of C-suite executives, Cheryl brought a wealth of organizational and administrative management skills to Laurel Heights six years ago.  She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in administrative management, with a concentration in organizational leadership. When she is not spending time with her family, she enjoys event management and writing, and her favorite pastimes are reading and enjoying a good cup of java.

Leslie Williams

Director of Utilization Review: Leslie Williams, LPC

Hailing from Somerset Kentucky, Leslie has served in the capacity as a licensed professional counselor in crisis centers, in-patient & outpatient hospitals, private practices, & homes across metro Atlanta. She served as a utilization review coordinator & now as the Director of Utilization Review Ms. Her committees, affiliations, & awards include: Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Psi Chi International Honor Society, & Spelman College Alumnae Association. An avid thrift shopper, in her free time, Leslie runs, Just Thrifted, an online clothing boutique where she provides personal shopping services & where one can purchase all of her amazing thrifted finds!

Bekah Fisher

Director of Clinical Services: Bekah Fisher, LPC, CPCS

Creativity and compassion are woven through Bekah Fisher’s expressions to patients, families, and her team of therapists. Wielding degrees from the University of Houston in Counseling and Psychology, she has applied her knowledge by soft sword in leading therapist teams at acute behavioral and residential programs, In her spare time, Bekah enjoys spending time with her daughter and painting.

Director of Plant Operations: Travis Ward

We’re Here to Help

Laurel Heights Hospital’s professional staff are ready to help find the best treatment options for your child. Call 404-888-5475 for a no-cost, confidential assessment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you need immediate medical assistance, contact 911 or seek the nearest emergency room.