Richard C. Christensen, M.D., M.A., made it his life’s work to provide psychiatric services to underserved populations, particularly the homeless. He served as the director of Behavioral Health Services at the Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville, where he oversaw clinical services in two psychiatry clinics, participating in psychiatric street outreach work and teaching medical students and resident physicians.
Christensen, a professor of psychiatry in the College of Medicine, died unexpectedly on Nov. 26 in Zambia while on a Habitat for Humanity build. He was out for a morning run when he was struck and killed by a driver.
“We are hit hard by the sudden loss of our beloved colleague, who exemplified service and care for his fellow human beings in all walks of life, and with a focus and passion for the mental health care needs of the homeless,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine. “He was a wonderful teacher, researcher, clinician and human being, and he will be greatly missed by so many, especially his patients.”
Christensen’s past clinical commitments included serving as medical director for a federally funded initiative targeting chronically homeless persons suffering the effects of co-occurring disorders and developing an integrated psychiatry-primary care initiative based at UF Health. He received UF’s highest teaching honor, The Hippocratic Award, and was named an Exemplary Teacher in 2011, 2012 and 2013. He was selected as the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for the Ripple Effect: Northeast Florida Mental Health Awards, presented by Mental Health America
of Northeast Florida, for 2015.
He is survived by his wife, Kathy, and his son, Chris.