Spring is Here!

Spring Greetings!

The 2018 Legislative Session adjourned at the end of March, and I am pleased to report that it was a successful Session for DBHDD.  We are very grateful to Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia General Assembly for their generous support of our mission through the FY 2019 budget.  I invite you to read DBHDD’s Gold Dome Report, which highlights key funding and legislation affecting our department and the people we serve.

During the Session, DBHDD’s essential work continues.  As you know, we have led a dramatic transformation in the last decade, shifting from a system that is over-reliant on hospital-based care to a community-based and recovery-oriented system of care.  The evidence of this transformation can be seen in many communities around the state.  That said, our five state hospitals still play a critical role in our service continuum.  As our community service system expands, our hospitals will be reserved for two populations: First, individuals with long-term chronic mental illness who cannot be adequately treated in a community-based setting; and second, the growing population of individuals with mental health needs who have forensic status, meaning that they are involved with the judicial system.  These individuals may have a short- or long-term stay with us as the court determines their ability to return to a community setting.  DBHDD embraces the dual responsibilities of protecting public safety and creating an environment that fosters recovery for each individual in our care.

Given our commitment to wellness, I am proud to announce the March 16, 2018 opening of the new Center for Wellness, Hope and Learning at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, Georgia.  The center consolidates the hospital’s treatment mall services into one innovative, state-of-the-art facility designed to support recovery in an education-like environment.

The new center demonstrates the considerable strides Georgia has made in forensic services, signifying a shift from an institutional model to one that is based on recovery.  In February, I announced DBHDD’s new policy on Recovery, Wellness, and Independence as a cornerstone in our commitment to the people we serve.  The Center for Wellness, Hope, and Learning embodies the goals and values articulated in this policy.

The center follows a recovery model focused on hope, wellness, respect, and self-responsibility while helping people learn practical skills that prepare them for a life beyond the hospital.  The space is serene and inviting, featuring large windows, open hallways, and an emphasis on natural lighting.  The décor is comfortable, visually appealing, and creates a pleasant atmosphere in which individuals can learn and grow.  Retractable walls allow for a large common space to be divided into two, three, or four classrooms for multi-functional use.  An apartment-style classroom creates a real-life environment where people can learn the skills of independent living.

We envision that recovery is possible for every person who comes through our door.  The center’s thoughtful and detailed design is modeled after a community setting.  Here, individuals can develop independence while learning how to be safe and how to interact with others, so that they can thrive in the community.  This is a place where hope begins.

Quick Facts about the Center:

  • Construction began in December 2016
  • 21,427 square feet, plus 5,120 square-foot multipurpose room/gymnasium
  • Can serve up to 184 people, the capacity of the hospital
  • Seven regular classrooms, plus specialty classrooms for music, art, computer skills, exercise, and work therapy
  • Life skills classroom, modeled after an apartment
  • Large flexible space that can be transformed into two, three, or four classrooms with movable walls
  • Library
  • Interior garden space
  • Therapeutic Incentive Program (TIP) store modeled after a retail setting

Many of our DBHDD colleagues played a part in the realization of this remarkable facility.  I want to specifically acknowledge Dr. Karen Bailey, Statewide Forensic Director; Susan Trueblood, Central State Hospital Administrator, and the CSH team; and Greg Hoyt, Director of Hospital Operations.  None of this would have been possible without the generous support of Governor Deal and the General Assembly, who are deeply committed to the people we serve, as well as local public officials who support DBHDD’s vision and mission.

Check out the photos from the center’s ribbon cutting!

Sincerely,
Commissioner Judy Fitzgerald