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Thursday, October 1, 2009 - 10:38am

Judge Rejects Georgia's Plan for Mental Health Hospitals

Georgia could lose control of its mental health hospitals to a federal judge if the state doesn’t propose a viable plan for improvement.

Yesterday U.S. District Judge Charles Pannell rejected Georgia’s plan to fix the state’s ailing mental health network.

The settlement agreement submitted by state officials to the U.S. District Court in January was intended to resolve federal investigations of abuse, neglect and substandard medical care that led to deaths at state-run mental health hospitals.

But the U.S. Justice Department and some mental health advocacy groups say the state’s not doing enough to protect patients.

Attorney Josh Norris with the Georgia Advocacy Office says a court document filed Thursday:

“…Lays out a series of deaths, sexual assaults and other things that have gone on in the hospitals since the settlement agreement, which indicates there has been no substantial progress made on all of theses pressing, pressing issues.”

If a viable improvement plan isn’t proposed, the judge could order vast, costly changes to the state’s mental health network. And that could include Georgia losing control of the entire system.

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