Thursday, December 11, 2008

Georgia Edges Toward Eliminating Public Psychiatric Hospitals

Their mental health infrastructure in shambles, their services under investigation by the US Justice Department and their money pool evaporating, Georgia's Department of Human Resources may just go for broke. They are considering a plan which would privatize the state's entire mental health network. Such a move would put Georgia boldly where no state has gone before. Florida and North Carolina made overtures to the private sector in their recent pasts, parceling off pieces of their psychiatric system to for-profit entities who then delivered grim results in the form of substandard services and stagnant outcomes.
As recently as September, Human Resources Commisioner B.J. Walker was publicly floating proposals allowing a measured amount of privatization. But when the Department quietly met in November, Walker laid out plans for a total surrender of the state system. When word got out to the media, considerable consternation ensued. Ellyn Jeager of the advocacy group Mental Health America politely expressed "serious reservations" about the strategy, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Private companies are in the business to make money. I’m not sure it will improve the system.”
Then again, maybe they will. Georgia's state-run system has been faulted for negligent care resulting in a dizzying 136 patient deaths between 2002 and 2007. It's hard to imagine any privately held corporation would tolerate that many risks to its bottom line.

PHOTO: NED HORTONSphere: Related Content

No comments:

Custom Search