Thomasville, GA- Consistent with the mission and goals of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) to serve individuals as close to home as possible in the least restrictive setting, the department will no longer provide services at Southwestern State Hospital (SWSH). Thus, Southwestern State Hospital in Thomasville, Georgia will close on December 31, 2013.
DBHDD is currently working with developmental disabilities clients at SWSH and their families or legal guardians to establish an Individualized Service Plan (ISP). The ISP provides clients the most customized care available and the opportunity to live the life of independence they deserve. Mental health clients currently served by SWSH will be served in 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.
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 will include Behavioral Health Crisis Centers, Crisis Stabilization Units and Intensive Case Management Teams. For more information regarding mental health and developmental disability services please visit www.dbhdd.ga.gov.
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. 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 United States Department of Justice, DBHDD and the Georgia Department of Community Health entered into a settlement agreement (the “Agreement”) regarding the administration of services to individuals with developmental disabilities who live in state hospitals, including SWSH. Specifically, the Agreement requires the state to transition these individuals from state hospitals 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.
Frank Berry has served as commissioner of DBHDD since August, 2012. The DBHDD is the state agency that focuses solely on policies, programs, and services for people with mental illness, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities. The department’s mission is to help the people it serves live a life of recovery and independence.