Friday, January 22, 2010

In Reference to a Detailed Explanation

From my vantage point, it seemed like the joint Appropriations Committee was much more concerned with grilling Dr. Rhonda Meadows of the Department of Community Health than it was with Dr. Frank Shelp of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities yesterday. But the hearing did convey some interesting details.
In response to a question from state Senator Johnny Grant, R-Milledgeville, Shelp said that the state narrowly avoided a U.S. Department of Justice request to shut Central State Hospital down following Justice's first visit to the campus sometime last year.
Shelp also said that the partnership between the East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta and the Medical College of Georgia has greatly increased that hospital's ability to take an increased case load due to the diversion of mental health consumers away from Central State. Shelp said to be expecting more partnership announcements in the coming weeks.
State Representative Rusty Kidd seems to think that Milledgeville may be a party to some of those announcements.
Some of Shelp's discussion about developmental disabilities programming caused me to think that there may be plans for the state to divest itself of one of its developmental disabilities facilities.
In a conversation following the hearing, Grant told me that it would be hard for the state to walk away from the developmental disabilities program at Central State because it has the largest census of people utilizing that programming in the state.
But heed this warning:
"Daniel, I just don't know. If you'd have asked me last week, or even earlier this week, I'd have told you that I felt Central State was pretty stable. Long term, I think Shelp is right, and I've even heard it in a lot of conversations with others: The ultimate goal is to not have long term clients in hospital or institutional settings. Olmstead extends to mental health."

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