Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

June 11, 2013

Mental health facility planned

24-bed center coming to Lowndes

VALDOSTA — The recently announced closing of Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville has left many in the region wondering what will happen to the patients and the staff at the end of the year.

Mental-health facilities fall under the auspices of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, and the state Commissioner Frank Berry visited Valdosta Monday to address the issue.

Berry announced that a new Behavioral Health Crisis Center will be built in Lowndes County. The site and construction timetable have not been determined yet for the planned 24-bed facility, which will also include six temporary observation beds.

“Over the next three to five years, the state plans to invest almost $20 million in this region,” said Berry. “There will be 300 jobs, with 60 here at this facility.”

When asked after the presentation about the 660 full-time employees working at Southwestern, Berry acknowledged that “not everyone will get employment.” He said the current employees would receive preferential interviewing at the new facilities but not preferential hiring.

Berry announced that the current crisis center in Albany will be expanded and that Thomas County will also have a new crisis center, similar in size to the one in Valdosta, bringing the total to three crisis centers to serve the 24 counties in DBHDD Region Four.

“When the United States Department of Justice made their ruling three years ago about our mental-health facilities in Georgia, it gave us an opportunity to improve and we now deliver phenomenal care.”

Berry continued, “The DOJ isn’t forcing us to close hospitals, but the ruling is forcing us to ensure that the developmentally disabled be housed in communities, not hospitals.”

The first patients that will be discharged from the state’s hospitals will be the developmentally disabled. When asked about housing for them, Berry said the state is working with HUD and local community agencies to ensure that appropriate homes are found.

“The cost of remodeling a bathroom for the developmentally disabled is $20,000, and the total cost of retrofitting a home is around $80,000, over and above the purchase price, so this is a good thing in communities.”

The purpose of the large-scale changes in the way mental-health patients are assisted in the state is to bring them closer to home for their care.

“When they are closer to their homes and families, it helps with their aftercare and it keeps them in treatment,” Berry said.

The crisis center will be manned 24/7 and will accept patients as needed. When an individual in the community behaves in a manner that would merit further assistance, if there is no medical emergency, the individual would go straight to the crisis center and not the emergency room at the hospital. South Georgia Medical Center currently treats about 135 patients with mental illness each month, of which approximately 20 were transferred to Southwestern, and nearly half of the rest sent to other facilities around the state.

According to the Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Southwestern serves an average of 277 patients each month.

Berry said there are no plans for any other crisis centers in the region, bringing the number of slots available for patients to less than 75 in the region, or for less than a third of the patients currently seen monthly at Southwestern.

Southwestern costs the state approximately $35 million annually to operate, according to Berry, while the Lowndes Center will cost $5.2 million per year to operate.

The facility will come under the supervision locally of Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia. CEO David Sofferin said Monday that less than 40 percent of those who need help with mental-health and substance-abuse issues actually receive it.

“Behavioral health issues are largely ignored. Can you imagine if you said less than 40 percent of people with cancer were treated? There’d be an outcry.”

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • vsuopera1dido.jpg Operatic Conclusion

    When the curtain lowers this weekend on Valdosta State University Opera’s performance of Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas,” it will not only mark the end of the music group’s season.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • ‘If I Were Mayor’ contest essays

    If I were mayor, I would do all that I possibly can to make the city of Valdosta marvelous, but I cannot do it on my own. Some things in Valdosta I feel it is necessary to focus on would be our literacy rate, unemployment rate, crime history, and our environment.

    April 16, 2014

  • APTOPIX Boston Marath_Stew.jpg Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-valdostaboe001 copy.jpg Valdosta Board of Education reviews finances

    Valdosta City Schools Board of Education celebrated many successes Monday night, discussed budget information and heard an announcement of intent from a hopeful charter school.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • dancing with the stars copy.jpg Dancing with Valdosta Stars raises scholarship money

    Valdosta State University Music and Theatre & Dance’s Third Annual Dancing with the Stars of Valdosta presented a fine dance show this past weekend.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • N0041120.jpg Passover: A nation reborn

    “And you shall tell your children that on that day the Lord has took you out from the house of bondage.” — The Passover Hagadah

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-DFCS001.jpg Luncheon recognizes DFACS employees

    Dozens of Lowndes County Division of Family and Children Services employees gathered Monday at Olympic Park for a barbecue lunch in recognition of their hard work.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140414-Sewage002.jpg Fla. calls for Valdosta boycott

    Florida residents are calling for a boycott of Valdosta regarding the sewage spills, with areas affected downstream increasingly distressed over the millions of gallons that have polluted the waters of the Withlacoochee and the Suwannee River Basin during the last several years.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • police-lights-backgrounds-for-powerpoint.jpg ‘Dangerous’ fugitive caught

    A fugitive from Ohio wanted for attempted murder and a number of assault and robbery charges was captured by Valdosta police Saturday.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

Top News
Poll

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results