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Mental health facilities asked to submit plans

ACROSS MISSISSIPPI — The Mississippi Department of Mental Health has asked four facilities to develop contingency closing plans by the end of August in case the Legislature doesn’t provide adequate funding in the next fiscal year.

The facilities are North Mississippi State Hospital in Tupelo, South Mississippi State Hospital in Purvis, Mississippi Adolescent Center in Brookhaven and Central Mississippi Residential Center in Newton.

MDMH spokeswoman Wendy Bailey tells the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that the four were singled out because they receive the majority of their money from legislative appropriations, rather that from grant funds or federal funds.

Bailey says the plans would include how the facilities would systematically release patients and employees and shut down equipment, buildings and services.

Bailey says developing the plan does not mean that the facilities will close, only that it could shut down if the Legislature doesn’t provide the needed funding for the fiscal year staring July 1, 2011.

In September, the Department of Mental Health will request an additional $44 million from the Legislature. That money will be needed to continue existing services, to replace federal stimulus money that will be not be renewed and to pay for a new Medicaid match requirement.

MDMH is expecting to be required to fund about $16 million in additional Medicaid matches for community programs during the current year. The department was cut $2.46 million in general fund dollars and $105,000 in special fund money during the last fiscal year.

“We don’t need that funding to increase our services. We need that to stay where we’re at,” Bailey said.

North Mississippi State Hospital Director Paul Callens said that he is “cautiously optimistic” that the Legislature will find a way to keep the facility open.

“But at the same time, you can not help but being nervous when asked to develop a plan that not only ends your career, but the careers of over 120 employees who have been established here for well over 11 years now,” he said.

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