Georgia joins the 21st century by agreeing to stop shuffling patients into its antiquated, poorly-funded state hospitals, and allowing patients instead to seek out and receive services within their own local community. This is apparently the first settlement with the federal government that invokes the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) to suggest that public inpatient psychiatric hospital care isn’t integrated within the community enough (at least in Georgia’s case).
The agreement was reached as a settlement with the federal government to give patients more choices when it comes to how they receive publicly-funded treatment for a mental illness or developmental disability. The settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and the State of Georgia was reached on Tuesday, October 19.
The effort to move patients out of warehoused state hospitals started in the 1960s, with John F. Kennedy’s backing of a federal Community Mental Health Center model. That was nearly 50 years ago. Some states quickly adopted this new model and by the 1980s, were closing their state hospitals and moving patients into community-based care and treatment. Other states, like Georgia, have taken their old time in shuttering the ineffective state hospitals — while 130 patient deaths have been attributed to the hospitals.
Now with a little prodding from the feds, Georgia will join the 21st century in providing the typical standard of care for people with serious mental illness and developmental disabilities.
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