MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — The state nursing home in Milledgeville is set to close by the end of next year, sending 127 severely disabled patients to smaller community nursing facilities in the state, officials said.
The closing of the James B. Craig Nursing Center at Central State Hospital will also force many of its 350 employees to search for new jobs, The Telegraph of Macon reported.
Officials anticipate closing the Craig Center by Dec. 31, 2013, Regional Hospital Administrator Dan Howell said.
Patients will gradually be evaluated and moved to other facilities with varying levels of care depending on patients’ needs, Howell said.
Howell said the center is closing for a variety of reasons, which include the belief that patients at the center can be helped at existing sites.
"Number one is the state of Georgia is choosing not to be in the nursing home business any longer," Howell said. "Two is the belief that the individuals who currently reside at the Craig Center can be supported within existing community care providers."
Also, state officials say they aren’t sure that continued operation of the Craig Center would meet standards of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Justice Department began investigating Georgia state hospitals in 2007 and found that an "alarming frequency" of preventable deaths, suicides and assaults, federal officials announced Oct. 19, 2010.
"Further investigation found that the state also failed to serve individuals with mental illness and developmental disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs," the announcement stated.
As part of a settlement with the federal government, state officials then vowed to provide services in the community to hundreds of people with developmental disabilities and thousands of people with mental illness. Closing the Craig Center is part of that broader effort.
Information from: The Macon Telegraph.