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Success in the face of adversity during winter storm

DBHDD & partners overcome winter weather obstacles to deliver services

Thank you!

Over the past several days, severe weather conditions paralyzed many parts of the state. However, during this time of extreme struggle, you all remained devoted to providing uninterrupted services across our entire network. 

While people across Georgia spent hours trying to get home, many of you spent just as long trying to report to work. 

Because of your commitment to the people we serve, I can gratefully say that our safety net for behavioral health and developmental disability services continued to function exactly as it was designed.  

I want to thank each of you for your unwavering dedication to our mission to provide high quality health care to all of our clients. While it was business as usual at our service provider locations across Georgia, there were many extraordinary efforts by partners and staff.

Here are just a few of the numerous examples of the outstanding efforts made across the state:

  • Staff members across the state were taken to work by other staff in four wheel drive vehicles. In other cases, police and sheriff department cars were used to transport critical staff to their facilities.
  • At East Central Regional Hospital in Augusta, staff were prepared for coverage around the clock. They braved the elements, worked double shifts, camped out and stayed overnight.
  • At Georgia Regional Hospital at Atlanta, many staff members braved the elements to make their shifts or worked a double shift to ensure coverage.
  • Georgia Crisis & Access line (GCAL) is the hotline that serves as Georgias point of entry to get crisis care services. GCAL worked through the winter weather and provided uninterrupted services across the state.
  • Mobile crisis operations continued in the face of the horrible conditions. Eighteen mobile crisis interventions were dispatched on Wednesday. In the event that mobile operations were prevented by weather conditions, clients and their families were provided  any possible support over the phone.
  • In Cobb County, about 50 employees spent the night at the CSB facilities. 
  • The director of the Cobb Crisis Stabilization Unit drove six hours just to get to the unit. The assertive community treatment (ACT) manager spent the night at the Cobb County Public Library and visited several clients. Staff members also stayed through the night at the Cobb County Jail to provide service at the jail.
  • A group of clients were traveling by car with a wellness coordinator. They were stuck in the gridlock caused by the weather overnight. The coordinator, Vontana Atkins, kept the clients busy with games and music until they could be moved the next day.
  • A pharmacist for the Highland Rivers CSB made himself available by phone to handle prescription requests. This allowed critical medications to be distributed to clients in the CSB.
  • Diane Wilush, executive director of the cerebral palsy program, had two clients in her car, one of whom is diabetic.  Wilush borrowed some Valentine's candy from another motorist and bought bread and soda from a nearby restaurant.  She and her passengers were picked up late Tuesday night by another staff member in a four-wheel drive truck.
  • Partnerships were already in place with local law enforcement agencies, city and county governments, and regional partners. The partnerships allowed everyone to have the flexibility needed to meet the needs of clients during the winter storm.

The department and regional providers are proud of the response during this challenging time. The importance of delivering services across the state is critical. Delivering those services could not have been possible without the remarkable efforts of individuals and teams across Georgia.

Thank you again,
Frank W. Berry
Commissioner