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Saying "Thank You and Goodbye" to a Dear Friend & Colleague

Updated: 7 days ago

GCBHS Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Tracey Skale accepts her COH award.

Dr. Tracey Skale joined the staff at Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services (GCBHS) in 1993 and has served as the organization’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for over 20 years! During that time, she has treated thousands of patients, helped families heal, and made an indelible mark on the mental health community in Greater Cincinnati. She is also a well-respected speaker on diseases of the brain as well as an expert in psychopharmacology and neuroscience. And, although she is far from “truly” retiring, Dr. Skale will be saying goodbye to us at the end of June.

It’s hard to believe how quickly time has passed. Dr. Skale was Chief Resident in Psychiatry at University Hospital in 1992 when she decided to join GCBHS – then known as Queen City Mental Health Services. She wanted to work with people and help them get better. Says her husband Paul Keck, MD, “It was not a wildly popular thing to go into community mental health care. It takes someone with a special heart. They were desperately trying to recruit Tracey to stay. To teach, to do research, to provide clinical care...that’s a lot of pressure for a young resident. And that she was able to stand her ground and say ‘No! This is where my heart is, I think, speaks volumes.”

Tracey has spent her entire career trying to break down the stigma and barriers (both physical and mental) that her clients face. In a 2023 Cincinnati Enquirer article that addressed the downtown homeless population posing a safety threat, Dr. Skale wanted the community to know it’s the complete opposite. She told the reporter, “So many of my patients have had repeated head injuries from being kicked or pushed. They fear people. They don’t feel good enough, not deserving enough.”

She is a big believer in how one person can play an important part in your life, which is why she loves listening to people’s stories. “You can learn something from every single person.” That philosophy and her ability to show kindness, empathy, and respect have paid off in the actual admiration and love her clients have for her. A former client and Director of Community Engagement for the Recovery Center, Bill Brown, CPRS says, “What Tracey did for me was see right through the logistics that I was living in and saw who I was. And (that) gave me some hope that I could regain what I had lost to my illness. And that’s invaluable.”

Dr. Skale is pictured with her husband Dr. Paul Keck (left), her daughter Jillian Skale, and Dr. Sundeev Gill.

Of course, Dr. Skale will also be remembered for her impeccable style. Another client, Mercedes, describes Tracey as...“kind, respectful, beautiful, and fly!” Giggling, she says, “She’s always on point!”

When presenting Tracey with this year’s Champions of Hope Honoree Award, GCBHS President & CEO, Jeff O’Neil said, “She is literally part of the heartbeat of GCBHS.” He then launched into what a “typical” day might look like for Dr. Skale, before adding, “Imagine how incredibly caring, talented, and dedicated you have to be, to be doing this kind of regimen and at such a high level for so many years... But through all of this amazing work, she has profoundly impacted the lives of thousands.”

"But through all of this amazing work, she has profoundly impacted the lives of thousands.” Jeff O'Neil

Several clients and their family members who were interviewed for a video tribute to Dr. Skale said that she is truly a “Keeper of Hope.” According to Bill Brown, Tracey, “held onto hope for me, when I couldn’t hold onto my own. I carry my own now and I carry other people’s when I need to....and I learned it from her.”

Watch the Video Tribute!

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Karen Tugrul
Karen Tugrul
4 days ago

When I met Tracey, I knew she was special. It was like she had a halo of light around her. Such a very special person with an amazing gift, and a huge loving heart.


Tracey Skale helped me balance mine

I went from a terribly lonely viscous cycle of 30 years of being hopelessly trapped in addiction, alcoholism, bi-polar w/ psychotic features atypical per history and a felon to primary care-giver for my wife of 20 years who's suffering from 3rd stage lung cancer. I've finally been able to think of another person before myself. A recovering alcoholic herself, we met at Christ Hospital Intensive outpatient and have enjoyed a new life of hope and continuous Sobriety for almost 19 years!!! The only time by God's grace and Dr. Skale, that I go to the hospital is for my wife's cancer treatment

She's absolutely a Saint. Thank you Dr. Skale You are forever in…

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