Valdosta Daily Times

What We Think

December 30, 2013

Where will they go?

-- — With the closure of Southwestern Hospital imminent, Georgia will soon see a new health crisis on the horizon.

Following a ruling by the Department of Justice in response to squalid conditions at the state’s mental and developmental disabilities facilities, the DOJ is pressuring the state to locate as many of these individuals in home-based settings in their local communities. Although the state was not ordered to close the acute care hospitals, they are, and replacing them with far fewer facilities.

At Southwestern, more than 300 employees will lose their jobs. The facility treats approximately 277 patients each month from the 24-county region, and the new acute care facilities in Valdosta, Thomasville and Albany will house fewer than 75. The facilities are meant to be transitional for patients, to remove them from society when they are a danger to themselves or others temporarily, until another home-based facility can be found.

Little to nothing has been explained about where those who are unable to function without constant monitoring are going to go. Georgia’s jails and prisons are already housing around 20 percent of the state’s mentally ill and developmentally disabled. A 24-bed facility will not be adequate to cover the more than 130 patients referred each month by SGMC to various hospitals around the state. A few will remain open, but largely, these individuals will be monitored at home-based facilities rather than treated in a medical setting.

The state will be saving a tremendous amount of money in the short term, though, as Southwestern costs the state approximately $35 million annually to operate while the Lowndes Center will cost $5.2 million per year to operate. No estimates on the community-based housing or even if there are any available yet have been provided.

What will be the long-term costs of the state’s new initiative? Already, local mental health professionals state that fewer than 40 percent of those who need help with mental health and substance abuse issues actually receive it. How high will that number go now?

While everyone welcomes the new crisis center and is thankful that there is one located in the immediate area, there remain many unanswered questions and concerns that the facility will be inadequate to meet the already present, and swiftly growing, needs of the region.

Text Only
What We Think
  • Thumbs Up

    THUMBS UP: To Air Force Lt. Col. David Rayman. The 75th Fighter Squadron commander recently logged 3,000 flight hours in the A-10C Thunderbolt II. A rare feat. In presenting a Moody Air Force Base story on his accomplishment in The Times, it’s good to see the face and know the name of one of the many pilots who cross our South Georgia skies. Congratulations on 3,000 and thank you for your service.

    July 26, 2014

  • Closing another summer chapter

    The South Georgia Regional Library brings its 2014 summer reading program to a close this weekend with an event that celebrates readers and writers.

    July 24, 2014

  • Countdown for voter apathy

    If you don’t think your vote counts, talk to Ellis Black and John Page today.

    July 24, 2014

  • Vote to remove signs

    Congratulations to the winners in the primary runoff election Tuesday.

    July 23, 2014

  • Runoff election counts today

    Today is an election day that started just a little more than two months ago.

    July 21, 2014

  • PSST! Only one week left

    Peach State Summer Theatre enters its final week of performances for the 2014 season. This means there are only a few more opportunities left to see “Mary Poppins,” “Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” and “42nd Street.”

    July 20, 2014

  • The wisdom of animals

    Animals may be smarter than us. If you don’t think so take a look at how we humans deal with the oppressive heat of summer. Compare our activities with those of animals.

    July 19, 2014

  • Welcoming home the ‘Unseen Project’

    Two months ago, they embarked on an ambitious endeavor: Two friends, riding on motorcycles criss-crossing the United States, followed by a film crew, on a faith-based tour to find America the Unseen.

    July 17, 2014

  • A downtown church’s faith

    First Baptist Church made a leap of faith this past weekend.

    July 16, 2014

  • Overpass has double potential

    They say it will be here sooner than we think.

    July 16, 2014

Top News

School starts again in about two weeks. What do you think?

It's still summer. School starts too soon.
Seems like the right time to return.
Abolish summer recess. Make school year-round.
     View Results