health and cMental hospital closure delayed

The agreement followed an investigation into the abuse and deaths of dozens of patients in state mental hospitals. A series of articles by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution starting in 2007 uncovered the abuse.

A crisis stabilization unit for the mentally ill recently opened in Flowery Branch, with a second unit set to open in Rome in June. Three new support teams to treat people in the community have been established. Mobile services and a crisis respite home for people with developmental disabilities also will be launchedhealth and community services in June, Wilson said.

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Still, advocates worry community services aren’t being established st enough and the quality of care at the hospital may be impacted as workers accept positions elsewhere. The drop in hospital staffing, as well as sure enough housing is available for individuals, are two big concerns for advocate Ellyn Jeager.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I’m glad they pushed the date back, said Jeager, of the advocacy group Mental Health America of Georgia. They do have some serious challenges.

health and cMental hospital closure delayed,Tentatively slated to close June 30, Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital will remain open until at least Sept. 30, as the state continues to roll out new community services in North Georgia, including crisis stabilization units for the mentally ill.

I think this is where the department has to step up to make sure that safety net is in the community to make sure people don’t end up through the cracks and in emergency rooms and jails, he said.

While some community services already have been established, many are not yet up and running, Jeager said.

Regardless of when the hospital closes, people must have the prophealth and cMental hospital closure delayeder resources when they move out, said Eric Jacobson, executive director of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.

The new time frame came as a response to people in the community calling for a more certain closure date, Wilson said. While most patients should be out of the Rome hospital by June 30, the additional time will allow flexibility in placing anyone left into community settings, he said.

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The Rome hospital’s staff has llen from 764 to about 600, but the state is using temporary agencies that provide skilled nurses to fill in the gap, Wilson said. The number of people being served at the cility has dropped from around 185 in January to 87, he said.

In 2010, the state was forced by the Justice Department to shut down adult mental health services at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville quickly, but it wasn’t under pressure to close the Rome cility by July, Wilson said.

The effort is part of a larger $70 million-plus push to move mentally ill and developmentally disabled people out of institutions and into the community as part of an agreement reached last ll between the state and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The goal in all of this is trying to serve people closer to home, said Tom Wilson, spokesman for the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

The deadline to close a state psychiatric hospital in Rome has been pushed back amid advocates’ concerns that community services for mentally ill and developmentally disabled individuals wouldn’t be ready in time.

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