Georgia’s success helping people with developmental disabilities find homes and services in communities across the state means more individuals are living as independently as possible and fewer are relying on institutional care. As a result, on June 30, 2012, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD) will discontinue the developmental disabilities program at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville. Six months ago there were approximately 120 people with developmental disabilities being served by that program; by the end of May, there were 16. By June 30, all of them will have chosen new homes and service providers appropriate to their needs in communities. With the participation of their families and the support of Medicaid waivers from the State, each of them will have moved into their own or their family’s homes, host homes, or group homes, while still receiving the therapeutic and living supports they require.
Approximately 280 DBHDD employees associated with the developmental disabilities unit and support services will be affected by the closure of the program. Each will have 30 days notice before their employment is ended and the department will be offering job fairs, resume workshops, and other services to help them find new employment, including any jobs that are available at CSH and other state hospitals. The Georgia Department of Labor will also be onsite throughout the month of June providing employees with information about available resources and re-employment services, a strategy DBHDD and DOL have used successfully in the past to help staff find new jobs.
In 2011, Georgia passed legislation to end admissions to state hospitals for anyone whose primary diagnosis is a developmental disability. Since that time, individuals have been provided with housing, community services, and family supports to prevent hospitalization. By ending admissions and continuing to help people with developmental disabilities move into community settings, the state will make it possible for everyone who can be served in community settings to move out of institutional care by July 1, 2015. This transition is in keeping with the State’s 2010 settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice – and the aspirations of people with developmental disabilities, their families, and advocates.
Although the role of Central State Hospital in Georgia’s behavioral health and developmental disabilities system has and is changing, Milledgeville’s role in human services for the State of Georgia continues. New facilities, including the 280-bed Bostick Skilled Nursing facility, are opening, and legislation passed by the General Assembly this year will establish a redevelopment authority for the Milledgeville area, including the substantial land and building resources associated with Central State.