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.

1
Text Only
What We Think
  • He is Risen

    Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they and certain other women with them came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

    April 19, 2014

  • Thumbs up

    THUMBS UP: To Carol Mikkelsen. Valdosta State University Opera’s “Dido and Aeneas” marks the last production before Mikkelsen’s retirement
    after 44 years with Valdosta State and the creation of the opera program. She plans to continue
    working with VSU part-time, but this weekend’s performance marks her last full-time participation with the opera productions. Ovations all around for her work.

    April 18, 2014

  • Feed the hungry, adopt a duck

    If you haven’t already adopted a duck, you have a little more than a week to do so.

    April 17, 2014

  • If I were mayor

    Each year, the City of Valdosta holds an essay contest, “If I Were Mayor,” with students in the area writing their ideas about what they would do as the head of the city.

    April 16, 2014

  • The real lessons of a mock drill

    Valdosta High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions held a powerful mock demonstration Monday morning on the school’s campus.

    April 14, 2014

  • Kudos to VPD

    Followed by a stellar report on Sunday about the drop in the crime rate in the City of Valdosta, city police officers prove their worth once again by arresting a dangerous fugitive in our community.

    April 13, 2014

  • It just plain stinks

    After every rain event, the pungent smell of sewage can be detected around the rivers and streams of south Georgia, and Florida residents brace for more to float their way.

    April 13, 2014

  • Pennsylvania school stabbings: Why?

    The following editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday, April 10:

    April 11, 2014

  • European bans on emails unlikely in America

    Several European countries are banning work emails to employees before and after normal working hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., in an effort to curb the perceived abuse of employees by corporations.

    April 11, 2014

  • Strength of character

    It was an unusual friendship — a tiny 8-year old girl with long blonde hair and the 6’10” Michigan State basketball player.

    April 10, 2014

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results