MCG takes over local mental health hospitals

Thursday, Oct. 8, 2009 4:11 PM
Last updated 6:50 PM
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Peter Buckley has seen it before — a medical school steps in with a struggling psychiatric hospital and turns it around in a few years. Now Dr. Buckley, the chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior at Medical College of Georgia, is hoping for similar success with East Central Georgia Regional Hospital in Augusta and Gracewood.

The school and the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities announced a partnership Thursday that will allow MCG School of Medicine to take over administration of the 585-bed hospitals that occupy two campuses. Not only will staff not lose their jobs but the move will actually result in MCG hiring staff for positions that the state has struggled to fill, said Commissioner Frank Shelp.

“This will enhance our job attractiveness,” he said, in an institution that is now severely understaffed. It will also allow MCG residents and two new forensic fellows, to rotate through the facilities, enhancing care for patients and families, and providing new energy for the staff to connect with, Dr. Shelp said.

“I think everyone is excited about it,” said Registered Nurse Lois Gulley, who said she is looking forward to “teaching and learning.”

It also might help the state meet the expectations of the U.S. Department of Justice, which has deemed a previous state-submitted plan to improve care in state mental hospitals as inadequate, Dr. Shelp said. Almost all of the $2 million cost of making the transition will be borne by moving around existing hospital revenues.

“In terms of finances, it is really revenue-neutral,” Dr. Shelp said.

Prior to coming to MCG, Dr. Buckley said he was with Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, which partnered with a troubled psychiatric hospital also facing legal trouble and in seven years turned it into one voted best in Ohio by a national advocacy group. Dr. Shelp also praised his experience at Duke University Medical Center in establishing a relationship with a state mental health hospital in North Carolina.

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uncleshirt
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uncleshirt 10/08/09 - 03:41 pm
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Hallelujah! It's about time

Hallelujah! It's about time somebody recognized that ECGRH as it is currently run is a poor choice for a psychiatric hospital. MCG has a lot of work to do to turn things around. They need all the support they can get.

Fiat_Lux
16442
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Fiat_Lux 10/08/09 - 04:03 pm
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Wow! This is really exciting.

Wow! This is really exciting. If it really is revenue neutral, it will be a wonderful opportunity for all the facilities involved, with real improvement possible for patients.

littlettolate
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littlettolate 10/08/09 - 04:05 pm
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ECGRH is not the only one in

ECGRH is not the only one in need of some wonderful help! Gracewood will benefit tremendously also

createyourfuture
68
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createyourfuture 10/08/09 - 04:15 pm
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Maybe we can do some drug

Maybe we can do some drug rehab and get some people out of jail to leave room for those who need to be there.

Riverman1
93839
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Riverman1 10/08/09 - 04:18 pm
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This is good for the

This is good for the community and MCG. I find it amusing that a local news commentator says this proves previous rumors of MCG closing were bogus. I never heard any serious concerns voiced of MCG Augusta closing. What I did hear was that money for medical education coming to Augusta would be less with a new medical school in Athens. That is an indisputable fact. Down the road, the conflict over funding for Augusta v. Athens will continue to escalate.

sucram
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sucram 10/08/09 - 04:25 pm
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This is a real good look.

This is a real good look. Great for the clients and the employees.

JohnQPublic
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JohnQPublic 10/08/09 - 04:38 pm
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Although someone does need to

Although someone does need to look at GA regional augusta and gracewood employees especially youth facilities. I've heard some things are not on the up and up.

Riverman1
93839
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Riverman1 10/08/09 - 05:13 pm
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Check the employees that

Check the employees that Robin Wiliams hired.

disssman
6
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disssman 10/08/09 - 05:51 pm
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Who wants to bet that the

Who wants to bet that the ultimate plan is to off-site patients to get them settled in to communities? The real winners will be the neighborhoods where the patients are relocated. I also think it will be a slow rolling process so that it is hardly even noticed. I seriously hope I am wrong, but our treatment of these pitiful people is considered by some to be a huge drain on resources and off-siting would be a big money maker.

corgimom
38494
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corgimom 10/08/09 - 08:53 pm
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There are some mentally ill

There are some mentally ill patients that will always need to be hospitalized. They are just so violent, or so ill, they need to be in a facility. The sad fact is that our penal system is bursting with people who are more mentally ill than criminal.

mable8
2
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mable8 10/08/09 - 08:54 pm
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If they change the present

If they change the present administration at ECGSH it might work; however, I have my doubts about MCG as the owners considering the hospital in town was abusive towards the mentally retarded patients in the ER.

catfish201
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catfish201 10/08/09 - 09:52 pm
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DOJ will eventually take over

DOJ will eventually take over the hospitals and a federal judge will force the state to fund the necessary changes. The mental health system in our state is broken. Who ever this MCG administrator is don't take the job my friend it is a career KILLER? Lee Iacocca can't implement change in this environment. The administration is not the problem at East Central. The bureaucrats and General Assembly in Atlanta will have to be forced to make changes...otherwise we're just moving chairs around on the deck of the.......

5starr
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5starr 10/09/09 - 07:18 pm
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Maybe now something can be

Maybe now something can be done to better ECRH patients and staff. As an employee I see so many sick people in the surrounding areas from drug to alcohol abuse and a vast number of mental illnesses. Staff is under paid and resources are scarce. So instead of administrators checking in and out on staff every now and then for 5 to 10minutes and not liking what they see and then ordering down that staff needs to entertain/ interact with them more why don’t you all come down for a couples days out of the office and take a walk on the “wild side” with us check out these various behaviors that we see everyday and notice that coloring books and the same old classes are not going to fix it.

soldout
1283
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soldout 10/10/09 - 07:47 am
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EFT is great for mental

EFT is great for mental health and would eliminate a lot of their patients.

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