THOMASVILLE, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) will no longer provide services at Southwestern State Hospital (SWSH), which will close effective Dec. 31, officials announced Wednesday.
DBHDD is currently working with developmental disabilities clients at the Thomasville hospital and their families or legal guardians to establish individualized service plans, which officials say are set up to provide clients the most customized care available and the opportunity to live a life of independence.
Mental health clients currently served by SWSH will be assisted through various facilities located across the region, and those with a higher need will be served in an alternate psychiatric hospital. Clients in the forensic population will be transferred to other state forensic facilities, DBHDD officials say.
In addition, DBHDD will increase the amount and type of mental health services it currently provides the citizens of Southwest Georgia. New or expanded services are expected to include behavioral health crisis centers, crisis stabilization units and intensive case management teams, officials say.
"As DBHDD works to increase the number of developmental disability residential group homes and mental health services, we also recognize that our employees are our state's most valuable resource," DBHDD officials said in a news release Wednesday. "The department will work with contract providers to give the approximately 600 SWSH employees associated with the developmental disabilities unit and support services priority when selecting an applicant for employment. The benefits of hiring a SWSH employee for a residential group home position include continuity of care for clients; peace of mind for families and guardians; knowledge of the clients' individual needs and knowledge of the community and region.
"DBHDD will also reinvest in the community by working closely with numerous local, regional and state-based agencies and private agencies to provide services to SWSH employees, including GED preparation and testing, workforce training, employment assistance and more."
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice, DBHDD and the Georgia Department of Community Health entered into a settlement agreement regarding the administration of services to individuals with developmental disabilities who live in state hospitals, including SWSH. Specifically, the agreement required the state to transition these individuals from the hospitals and into community-based settings of their choice. In 2011, Georgia passed legislation to end admissions to state hospitals for anyone whose primary diagnosis is a developmental disability.
Information regarding mental health and developmental disability services can be found at www.dbhdd.ga.gov.