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Monday, July 19, 2010 - 11:46am

Better Staff Could Reform Mental Hospitals

An agreement with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities allowed MCG to take control of East Central Georgia Regional Hospital earlier this year.

It is one of 7 state-run facilities plagued by reports of improper care.

This month psychiatry students will start doing rotations there and a new forensic psychiatry fellow will join the staff.

More than 60 health care technician and nursing jobs will also be filled.

MCG psychiatry chair Dr. Peter Buckley says the increased academic presence will attract a higher caliber of worker and prevent abuse.

"It’s helped recruit people to a system that’s often difficult to recruit to so having a talented, committed, superior workforce is going to be a major factor in turning around this system," said Buckley.

With a boost of more than $60 million from the state, the DBHDD is the only agency that saw its budget increase this year.

Currently Georgia is dealing with a 2009 lawsuit by the federal government alleging system wide abuse of psychiatric patients in violation of their constitutional rights.

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