Alejandro R. Romano, 1969-2020; Mark Lawler, 1955-2020; Teresita Bolisay, 1956 -2020; and Ingrid Cypert, 1968-2020

In our adult lives, we spend at least 25 percent of our time at work. Some of us spend more time with our work families than we do with our biological families. Any time a coworker passes away, the sense of loss can be significant. But when you lose four leaders of your team over a short period, the grief can be overwhelming.

This is even more applicable for the staff at Santa Barbara County’s Psychiatric Health Facility, often referred to as “the PHF.” Our dedicated staff members generally work 12-hour shifts inside a secure, 16-bed facility. They provide 24-hour/365-day inpatient care to county residents who require psychiatric hospitalization. It is the only acute psychiatric inpatient hospital that accepts involuntary patients within Santa Barbara County.

Our Behavioral Wellness family suffered profound losses during these past several months. The news of the passing of Mark Lawler from a long-term illness reached us a day before the unexpected death of Teresita “Terri” Bolisay in late August. The loss of Ingrid Cypert followed a week later on September 4, while she was on hospice at her home. And on November 9, we lost Alejandro Romano, known as “Alex” to his PHF colleagues.

Alex Romero | Credit: Courtesy

Alex Romero was a Licensed Vocational Nurse on the night shift and an invaluable member of the PHF family. He worked at the PHF for a total of seven years, and he’d also worked for Ventura County Mental Health for 14 years.

Alex was a down-to-earth, genuine human being, known for making personal connections with all around him. He was a favorite among patients — his kind, quietly confident manner brought reassurance to even the most distraught clients. His ability to de-escalate a situation just by his mere presence brought a sense of calm wherever he went.

Alex always looked out for others, would frequently go out of his way to help, and demonstrated how much he cared in all he did — from consoling a grieving staff member, while also grieving himself, to walking coworkers out to their cars after dark. Even with his two-hour commute to work from his home in Bakersfield, Alex would offer to pick up extra shifts if it meant supporting the PHF.

Alex will always be remembered for his great smile, positive attitude, and ability to make people laugh. His kind heart and compassion for others will be greatly missed.

Alex is survived by his wife and their three children.

Mark Lawler | Credit: Courtesy

Mark Lawler was a Licensed Psychiatric Technician, team supervisor, and the designated PHF safety officer. Mark lived and breathed safety, wherever he went, and he was a strong advocate and example of preparation in all that he did.

He loved to share his knowledge — from woodworking to chickens and goats to safety planning in preparing for a disaster. He always took the time to acknowledge others, always finding the positive, embracing individuals for their humanity. Mark was a believer in the power of determination, stubborn in his true right but always exuding kindness, integrity, compassion, and generosity. He was a real family man — loyal to both his personal family and the PHF family.

Terri Bolisay | Credit: Courtesy

Terri Bolisay was recently promoted to a Psychiatric Nurse Senior role for the night shift at the PHF. She always took the time to greet others with the biggest smile, and give her unique greeting, “HELLOOO, it’s Terri!” She was kind, gracious, and giving — genuine with a balance of a feisty side when standing up for others. Terri was known for celebrating others, uniting those around her just by her presence; she was a kindhearted spirit, always bringing laughter, positive and supportive even in the midst of adversity. As a nurse, she was by nature dedicated to helping others, and she was always willing to pick up extra shifts to help the unit. Terri was a strong advocate for her peers, showing never-ending support to the team.

Ingrid Cypert | Credit: Courtesy

Ingrid Cypert was affectionately known as a “firecracker,” and she led a PHF day team as a Psychiatric Nurse Senior. She was strong and fierce in her convictions, and she supported her team as family — genuine, considerate, maternal. At the start of every shift, Ingrid would declare to the team, “Today will be ‘the best day ever,’” — and she would do everything she could to make that happen. She was eager to share her “healthy food” as well as her “secret love” of Panda Express and Kentucky Fried Chicken. She had a strong work ethic, and her ability to multitask was legendary — Ingrid often accomplished the work of several people all at the same time! Ingrid was an amazing patient advocate with an extreme attention to detail. She would never ask someone to do something that she would not do herself. Ingrid was a true leader.

The PHF is a close-knit community of skilled professionals who encounter difficult situations every day within their work environment. While we have all been suffering in this year of pandemic and disaster, these losses have compounded the stress for the PHF staff. But they also cherish their memories of working with these inspiring colleagues.

I am confident that, while they mourn these tragic losses, the PHF team will carry on and persevere. I am confident of this because of the examples that individuals like Alex, Ingrid, Terri, and Mark set for the rest of their teams. Each of them brought a uniqueness to the PHF family and will be greatly missed but always remembered.

Our sincere sympathies also go out to the families of Mark Lawler, Terri Bolisay, Ingrid Cypert, and Alex Romano. We ask that you please keep our colleagues, their families, and their PHF coworkers in your thoughts, and be kind and supportive of others in their memory.


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