Columbia, South Carolina



TO:             Organizational Component

SUBJECT:  Continuity of Care Policy

At the South Carolina Department of Mental Health we believe that we can achieve the highest possible levels of care for people with mental illnesses and/or chemical dependence problems only when we make them and their families the center of the mental health services systems. Our ideal is that all services be provided in local communities, but we know that sometimes our patients must leave home to obtain inpatient care. When that happens, we must endeavor to create an unbroken link between the community services and the hospitals or treatment centers as the patient enters and leaves inpatient care. All service areas within the Department of Mental Health must actively pursue the achievable goal of coordinated, continuous care of all our patients.

In our system of care, the Community Mental Health Center has primary responsibility for providing or securing appropriate treatment, support, and rehabilitative services for people who reside in local communities and who suffer from mental illnesses and/or chemical dependency problems. Our system of inpatient hospitals and treatment centers serves in support of the Community Mental Health Centers, helping to coordinate care for patients who need a more restrictive level of care.

The Procedure Manual for Continuity of Care, describes official policy and embodies the Department of Mental Health's expectations for coordinated services between community mental health centers and inpatient facilities. Each organizational unit is responsible for ensuring the training of appropriate staff on the content of this manual and implementing the procedures spelled out in the most current edition of this document. All internal policies of community mental health centers and hospitals, as well as any inter-facility agreements, must be consistent with the Procedure Manual for Continuity of Care.

This directive rescinds and replaces South Carolina Department of Mental Health Directive No. 805-98 (1-010) entitled "Continuity of Care Policy."

March 26, 2002