Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Advocates for a state-funded mental hospital in Newton are pleading with state legislators to keep its doors open next year.
"We want to appeal to them to support us with adequate funding so we can keep providing the valuable service we offer," said Central Mississippi Residential Center Executive Director Debbie Ferguson.
Ferguson said that the Mississippi Department of Mental Health has already suffered more than $20 million in cuts and that Gov. Haley Barbour has demanded that the department pay 50 percent of the federal match for community health centers, leaving it needing an additional $37 million to be able to continue to provide current services.
In his Nov. 16, 2009, budget recommendations, Barbour proposed closing several mental health facilities and crisis centers, including the Central Mississippi Residential Center. Other facilities include the Mississippi Adolescent Center in Brookhaven, the North Mississippi State Hospital in Tupelo, South Mississippi State Hospital in Purvis, the Brookhaven Crisis Center and the Cleveland Crisis Center.
Barbour said the state needed to move away from the institutional treatment.
But Ferguson said the Central Mississippi Residential Center is not exclusively an institutional-care hospital.
The facility offers an adult day-care program for Alzheimer's patients, where family members can retrieve them at the end of the workday. The program delays placing Alzheimer's patients into expensive full-time nursing homes.
The center also offers a series of group "half way" homes based on a community setting for mentally ill patients who have been stabilized at a full-time institution, but who are still unprepared for independent living. Finally, the center provides a crisis-intervention center--the only one still operated by the state--which offers a temporary home for people who are suicidal and those with other serious mental disorders.
Ferguson said the governor wants to close four facilities, including CMRC, not because they represent expensive institutional health care but because they are all predominately dependent upon state general funds: "(Barbour) gets the biggest bang for the buck by closing these facilities," she said.
Larry Waller, the father of former CMRC patient Michael Waller, said he did not know where his son would have gone had CMRC not been available in Newton.
"Our goal was to make him as independent as possible," Waller said of his bipolar son. "We want him to be where he can take care of himself, and CMRC fit a critical stage in between Michael's worse stage and supervised apartment living."
Critics say Barbour is putting an unhealthy rush on community-based health care, which is not a mature industry in the state.
The Mississippi Department of Health oversees the minimum standards for businesses providing residents with one or more daily assisted-living services," according to MDH. However personal-care homes don't have to be licensed if they have three or fewer occupants, said Nancy Whitehead of the Mississippi Department of Health's Regulation and Licensure Division.
Attorney General Jim Hood told the JFP in July that incomplete state regulations leave too much room for abuse from assisted-living businesses with three or fewer residents.
"If you're taking care of people in a home anywhere, whether it is a nursing home or anything, it should be a requirement that it be licensed," Hood said in July. " ... [T]hat's a loophole that needs to be closed."
Hood's office is prosecuting personal-care home workers for the freezing death of one personal-care home resident in Jackson.
House Public Health Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said he would work with legislators to try to find $37 million to fill the budget hole and keep centers like CMRC open in the upcoming session.
"I'm going to be like a barracuda trying to get that money," Holland told the Jackson Free Press. "The public just does not realize what we're facing in the budget. It is gargantuan. These are Grand Canyon-style cutbacks, but without the beauty of the Grand Canyon. Still, these institutions are not closing under my watch."
Things like this is why I support NAMI Mississippi's efforts. Help me support them by joining JFP's team for NAMIWalks on Nov. 6. More info here.
I don't know where to begin in regards to this subject? I think the state is a little too laxed in this area, it is not as simple as throwing someone in jail, who is truly mentally ill when they begin to become a public disturbance. When you go down the long list of the kinds and types of diagnosis regarding mental health issues, you have to consider things from the public health standpoint, you just can't expect to privatize mental health, because you can't expect everyone to have money to care for family members that are mentally ill. I agree, cuts are necessary in some area's of state government - but you have to look at the services a lot of these agencies provide for the citizens of Mississippi. I just don't get this "conservative christian value" stuff - when they are passing legislation like this?
- Duan C.
This is article explains the very reason we are having the benefit tonight for Hope Haven. We pretty much won't exist next year if Haley makes the cuts he promises. Holland better sink his teeth into this. The MS mental health care system is ARCAIC by other state's standards. Haley throws around terms like "less instituational-based care" but does not explain that the "community-based care" (that is perferred and seen as best practices) is ALSO BEING CUT. He's cutting ALL OF IT. There are precious few community-based resources in the state (hence statement above of "not a mature industry"). He wants to use a buzzword of "less institutionalized care" and saying we need to move to "community-based services" when the community based services are screwed in this cut as well. Also, there's hardly any of us operating at full staff at this point so we can already serve less clients. AND, The Department of Mental Health has been pushing for community-based models forever (Crisis centers, anyone?). The "Ideal System of Care" model in the state for children's mental health includes community based services that partner with one another to "wrap" services around a child. Those services? They are closing as well because, guess what? Haley never funded them appropriately to begin with and then did a 24% across the board cut to every single one of them this fiscal year. Bad times are coming.
- Lori G
@ Lori G - I have to call the pot the kettle black on this one. People voted for this and they are now receiving the problems behind their decision to place this man in office, they cut off their own nose in spite of their very own faces, thinking that Haley was only going to target certain welfare programs. Mental health, healthcare (medicaid and medicaid), Human Services all of that is at stake, and this article right here is proof in the pudding! Now who is going to hold Delbert Hoseman and Phil Bryant and any other conservtive running for Governor in Mississippi accountable? Because this is a rude awakening.
- Duan C.