The story of the Mental Health Subcommittee — a collaboration between the Archway Project and the Healthy Colquitt Coalition — began in October 2011, but the seed planted that day sprouted so rapidly that it began to bear abundant fruit less than a year later.
So much fruit, with such speed, that readers of The Moultrie Observer voted the subcommittee’s activities the Local Story of the Year for 2012.
The subcommittee began with a brainstorming session in October 2011. Attendees agreed on three focuses, each of which was to have its own working group: Clinical response to mental illness, judicial efforts to get sufferers from mental illness out of the court system and into a productive life, and education and support for both those living with mental illness and their families and friends. All three branches made dramatic progress in 2012.
The founding of the Mental Health Subcommittee was a direct response to the loss of Moultrie’s mental health facility, which was operated under state contract by Georgia Pines. State funding cuts forced Georgia Pines to close the Moultrie center in September 2009. From that time forward, law enforcement and emergency medical personnel reported having more and more mental illness cases they had to deal with.
A key goal of the subcommittee was re-opening of the Georgia Pines facility on North Main Street, which occurred in August 2012.
“We didn’t publicize that right away because we didn’t want them to be flooded,” Wilson said. A ribbon cutting and open house were held in late October.
Georgia Pines, Turning Point Hospital and Colquitt Regional Medical Center share resources to operate the facility. It is open one day a week and serves about half as many people as it did before the 2009 closure.
Wilson quoted Georgia Pines Executive Director Bob Jones as saying, “If we add one more clinical day we think we can serve everyone in Colquitt County that we know about right now.”
But the same problem that closed the center three years ago prevents an immediate expansion: money. Georgia Pines, Turning Point and Colquitt Regional have put as much money into the effort as they can, Wilson said.
“The local community is going to need to look long and hard about how they can support that other clinical day,” she said.