The Georgia General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on Thursday, April 2. DBHDD offered the following bills which now await signature by Governor Deal:
House Bill 288 will add two new members to the Behavioral Health Coordinating Council.
House Bill 512 will update Georgia law to align with changes occurring in DBHDD’s internal reorganization. Additionally, it clarifies the role of the current “regional planning boards” and renames them “regional advisory councils.”
Senate Bill 131 will modify the DBHDD crisis stabilization unit (CSU) licensing authority to a certifying authority, which will allow DBHDD to quickly adopt standards of care based upon the changing needs of the individuals seeking at those service sites.
On August 11, State Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) visited four of DBHDD’s community service boards, including Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia (Valdosta), Unison Behavioral Health (Waycross), Gateway Behavioral Health Services (Brunswick) and the Community Service Board of Middle Georgia (Dublin).
Unterman, who chairs the Senate’s health and human services committee, says visiting these sites plays an important role in better understanding the challenges that Georgia’s behavioral health system faces. “I am grateful for the opportunity to visit several of DBHDD’s facilities in South Georgia,” said Unterman. “It’s important to compare behavioral health care across all parts of the state. Access issues are very different in rural and urbanized areas. This visit underscores the need to ensure a qualified behavioral health care workforce across Georgia.”
Representative Ellis Black (R-Valdosta) and State Senator-elect Greg Kirk (R-Americus) also joined Unterman at Behavioral Health Services of South Georgia (BHSGA).
David Sofferin, CEO of BHSGA, was proud to show off the Valdosta crisis center. “Since opening our new behavioral health crisis center earlier this year, our team members have been providing a valuable service to individuals with substance abuse disorders and/or a mental illness,” Sofferin said. “Our 10-county service area has never had a crisis stabilization unit located in one of the 10 counties. The response has been phenomenal.”
Pictured left to right: Mary Girsch, RN, director of BHSGA’s behavioral health crisis center; Representative Ellis Black; State Senator Renee Unterman; State Senator-elect Greg Kirk; David Sofferin.
On May 6, the Cobb Community Service Board (CSB) broke ground on a new behavioral health crisis center in Marietta. The center is expected to open by spring of 2015 and will provide easier access to high-quality services for Cobb and Douglas county residents. The center will offer 24/7 walk-in treatment and will house 24 stabilization beds, 4 transition-level beds and a 23-hour observation program.
The new center is part of Georgia’s increased focus on community-based behavioral health services. The addition of the Cobb crisis center and others across the state reflects the department’s commitment to serving people close to their homes and in the least restrictive setting possible. The facility will be supported by a $5.2 million annual investment from DBHDD.
“Thanks to funding provided for by Georgia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the Cobb CSB’s new center will serve thousands of citizens in immediate need of mental health and/or addiction treatment services,” said Cobb CSB executive director Tod Citron.
Governor Nathan Deal and Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee joined DBHDD Commissioner Berry at the groundbreaking ceremony held at 1775 County Services Parkway in Marietta.
The Cobb and Douglas Community Service Boards provide mental health, developmental disability and substance abuse services to approximately 10,000 residents of Cobb and Douglas counties annually. For services call the Access Center at 770-422-0202.