The State Must Involve Stakeholders Before Closing NWGRH
The announcement on January 13 that Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital will close on June 30 shocked not only the employees of the hospital but just about everyone else in the Rome area. No one knew that closure was being considered. Some conjected that United States Department of Justice and State of Georgia settlement (October 2010) dictated closing state hospitals. This was a wrong assumption. Other rumors surfaced--budget considerations, ample community-based services already exist in Region 1 (31-counties in north Georgia), etc. As of the posting of this petition (February 5), no concrete answer has been offered.
The settlement lists many new community-based services that are to be in place prior to the hospital closure. While these new programs have been sought by mental health advocates for years, it is questionable that they can be fielded before closing hospital beds. Simply, there has been little to no community input as to the location of these new services.
Advocates fear that there will still be long waits in emergency rooms before finding a bed for individuals in crisis and that local jails will still house individuals with mental illnesses because they were unable to access quality community-based services. The are leary about the state providing "real" supportive employment and supportive housing. Past history predicts future actions. Therefore, advocates, families, and consumers of mental health services must be convinced that anything "new" will truly work. We feel that by signing this petition, our voice of concern will be expressed to those this petition addresses.
Please sign and let others know how important it is.
To: Honorable Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
Honorable Casey Cagle, Lt. Governor of Georgia
Honorable Jack Ralston, Speaker, State House of Representatives
Honorable Members, State Senate
Honorable Members, State House of Representatives
Honorable Members, State Board of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
Honorable Dr. Frank Shelp, State Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
Honorable Dr. Bryce McLaulin, Executive Director Division of Mental Health, DBHDD
WHEREAS, the Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities has without grassroot input notified employees of Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital in Rome that will result in the closure of all beds: acute adult psychiatrics, developmental disability, and forensic will be effective on July 1, 2011. Adult mental health and developmental disabled patients will be moved into and served by community services and forensic individuals will be moved to other state hospitals at a minimum distance of one hundred miles from Rome;
WHEREAS, there is no evidence to suggest that the planned community services identified in the United States Department of Justice and State of Georgia settlement dated October 19, 2010, will be operational to any degree of fidelity to relieve the need for adult acute mental health beds in Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital;
We petition the public officials named above to cease further implementation of actions to close Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital; and furthermore participate in regional stakeholder meetings in a series of sessions beginning February 15, 2011, with the purpose to identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in existing mental health services (public and private) throughout Region 1 and to build community consensus to find solutions to move our most vulnerable citizens toward becoming contributing members of Region 1.