Originally created 08/12/02

Gracewood mission, patients deserve proper financing



I was disappointed to read your editorial on July 24 ("Gracewood woes"), concerning Gracewood State Hospital. I don't take issue with publicizing the lapses in quality of care found by federal inspectors. Such inspections are necessary to safeguard our most vulnerable citizens.

Just the same, I believe Georgians deserve to understand the financial pressures that state hospitals have been subjected to the last few years ... Budgets for our state hospitals have been reduced to levels inadequate to support the institutions' missions.

The drive is to effect closure of these institutions by virtue of a perpetually declining budget. But the reality is there are members of our society who live with disabilities so severe that they require skilled care at a level not available in a community setting.

These silent citizens, our most severely disabled and helpless, deserve the quality of skilled care that institutions such as Gracewood can offer.

Gracewood's leaders have certainly learned how to do more with less in recent years, but they do require a budget consistent with their mission ...

We met a number of the staff over the last few years when our son participated in the former "respite care" program at Gracewood. Everyone was cheerful, helpful and, most importantly, very comfortable dealing with individuals with severe disabilities.

My wife and I often commented after a visit to Gracewood how remarkable it was that everyone had such a great attitude in spite of the looming staff reductions.

The staff at Gracewood is a shining example of government service at its best. The people of Georgia, with the support of their local papers such as The Augusta Chronicle, need to send the message to the governor and legislature that there are still many severely disabled citizens who need and deserve the special caring environment that Gracewood can best provide.

William S. Robson, Martinez, Ga.