South Carolina Department of Mental Health

Director's Column - January 26, 2016

Recent Developments and AchievementsJohn H. Magill, State Director

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH) strives to improve and expand its services to the citizens of our state. With your support, we continue to make great strides. This document is the first update of select examples of Agency milestones, achievements, and services for the year 2016.

  • Thanks to the support of the Governor and the General Assembly, DMH has been increasing access to community mental health services. As compared to FY2014, new cases (new/readmissions) in FY 2015 increased 3.17%. As compared to the first half of FY2015, new cases (new/readmissions) in the first half of FY 2016 increased 2.07%.

  • As of January 12, 2016, DMH’s innovative and award winning Emergency Department Telepsychiatry consultation program had provided 26,300 psychiatric consultations in emergency departments across South Carolina. The Program was developed to meet the critical shortage of psychiatrists in South Carolina’s underserved areas, and assist hospital emergency rooms by providing appropriate treatment to persons in a behavioral crisis, using real-time, state-of-the-art video-and-voice technology that connects DMH psychiatrists to hospital emergency departments throughout the state.
    • In October 2015, the Program was recognized yet again, when it was named as a Statewide Telehealth Program of Excellence at the 4th Annual Telehealth Summit. Built on the success of Telepsychiatry services to emergency departments, DMH has equipped its hospitals, mental health centers, and clinics to provide psychiatric treatment services to its patients via Telepsychiatry. Currently, DMH is providing approximately 450-475 psychiatric services in its center to center program, and 475 psychiatric services in its center to clinic program monthly.
    • In total, DMH provides approximately 1,500 psychiatric services per month to DMH patients via Telepsychiatry. The use of this technology enables DMH to more efficiently utilize the limited number of psychiatrists available to treat the most patients.

  • In September 2015, DMH received a youth suicide prevention grant of $736,000 per year for five years from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The award supports the Young Lives Matter Project an intensive, community-based effort with a goal of reducing suicide among youths and young adults, aged 10 to 24, by 20% statewide by 2025.

  • With funds appropriated from the SC General Assembly in FYs 14 and 15, DMH has expanded school-based programs. DMH School-based Services are now available in 502 schools in 43 counties across South Carolina.

    • In addition to State Funds, DMH’s School-based Program has received a grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of South Carolina to further expand these services. The $1.4 Million award will place nine school-based mental health professionals in schools in counties with high levels of poverty and stressors affecting childhood development.

  • DMH’s Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital was recently recognized as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures for 2015 by The Joint Commission. The award recognizes accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals that attain and sustain excellence in accountability measure performance, based on an aggregation of accountability measure data reported during the previous calendar year.

  • Parcel sales of the Bull Street property have continued. The Department has now received more than $4,000,000 of an eventual minimum amount of $18.6 Million from the sale of the site of the former SC State Hospital in Columbia.

  • The Department’s Charleston Dorchester Mental Health Center responded immediately to the murders at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Wednesday, June 17, 2015, and continues to provide support to families of the victims, including ongoing twice-weekly grief groups and a retreat for families of the victims.

  • In late 2015, DMH received a grant of $1.8 Million per year for three years from SAMHSA, funding a new initiative, the Cooperative Agreement to Benefit Homeless Individuals for SC (CABHI-SC). CABHI’s target population is individuals who are chronically homeless and have serious mental illnesses or co-occurring disorders, including veterans. The Initiative includes several primary partners: the SC Coalition for the Homeless, Palmetto Health, and DMH’s Greenville MHC, and intends to serve 109 individuals over the three-year grant period.

  • In the summer of 2014, work began to relocate William S. Hall (Hall), DMH’s inpatient hospital for children, to the campus of the Bryan Psychiatric Hospital, creating a separate admissions building and entrance road and renovating two unoccupied lodges of Bryan. All Hall patients and staff relocated to the new facility December 15, 2015. Hall continues to be the primary child and adolescent hospital within the DMH system, with child and adolescent services becoming a distinct area of Bryan; the move will increase child and adolescent hospital bed capacity and improve administrative efficiency.

  • In November 2015, DMH held a property dedication ceremony for a new community mental health center in Sumter, replacing the current facility, which is more than 40 years old. The Center will be located at 801 North Pike West, Sumter, and will serve as the primary location of DMH’s Santee-Wateree Community Mental Health Center.

    • The new building will allow the Center to provide children’s services and medical services under one roof, and is scheduled for completion and operation in 2017.

  • DMH faced many difficulties due to the flooding event October 3-22, 2015, however, staff preparation and response ensured the Agency continued to provide services to people in need.

    • Midlands-area inpatient locations experienced some water incursions at the hospitals, nursing homes and at the Agency’s energy plant. The Department’s Physical Plant Services (PPS) staff responded to the situation during the storm, leaving their own homes in the dark and rain to report for duty to the facilities.
    • In addition, PPS staff continually monitored the “high hazard” dam adjacent to Morris Village, keeping the siphon in operation throughout the flood event, and preventing the overtopping of the dam.
    • The Agency’s inpatient facilities in Columbia faced serious nursing staff shortages during the event, as scheduled staff could not get to their facility to work, either because they themselves were impacted or because of infrastructure damage.  Most of the nursing staff on duty at the outset of the storm had to remain at their posts without relief for, in some cases, days. Managerial and administrative staff pitched in to procure bottled water for the patients and buy food for the clinical staff unable to leave their posts.
    • Through all of those efforts, DMH inpatient facilities in Columbia, comprising a total of almost 800 beds, remained operational throughout the event, as did the SCDMH facilities in Anderson and Walterboro.
    • Other than a number of Centers being closed for hazardous weather in accordance with the State’s hazardous weather policy, all 60 DMH outpatient clinic sites were open and providing mental health services.
    •  In November, DMH launched a program designed to guide members of the communities affected by the floods to resources that will aid in their continued recovery. Carolina United is fully funded by the Federal Emergency Management Administration with monitoring and support by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The initiative places disaster crisis counselors in affected areas, to guide citizens not only to behavioral health resources, but also legal, financial, housing, and other resources.
    • The Program hopes to add another 50 outreach workers in an effort to serve South Carolinians in the 24 counties named in the Presidential Disaster Declaration.

The South Carolina Department of Mental Health’s mission is to support the recovery of people with mental illnesses, giving priority to adults with serious and persistent mental illness and to children and adolescents with serious emotional disturbances.

  • Each of DMH’s 17 community mental health centers is accredited by CARF International, an independent, nonprofit accreditor of human service providers. In addition, Morris Village Treatment Center, the Agency’s inpatient, drug and alcohol hospital, is also accredited by CARF International.

  • Each of DMH’s three psychiatric hospitals is accredited by The Joint Commission, which aims to improve healthcare by evaluating healthcare providers and inspiring them to excel in the provision of safe, effective care of the highest quality and value.

  • Each of DMH’s four nursing homes is licensed by DHEC and certified by CMS.  Three of the four nursing homes (516 beds) serve veterans exclusively and are certified by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The Tucker Nursing Care Facilities (Roddey - General Nursing Home and Stone - Veterans Nursing Home) are nationally accredited by The Joint Commission (TJC) and represent two of only 10 Nursing homes in South Carolina with this distinction.  *There are 195 nursing homes in the State of South Carolina.

  • DMH has more than 700 portals by which citizens can access mental health services, including:

    • A network of 17 outpatient community mental health centers, 43 clinics, four psychiatric hospitals, one community nursing care center, and three veterans’ nursing homes;
    • More than 20 specialized clinical service sites (DMH offices that provide some type of clinical care, but do not offer a full array of services found in a center or clinic);
    • 23 South Carolina hospitals with Telepsychiatry services;
    • More than 140 community sites (non-DMH entities or businesses where DMH staff regularly and routinely provide clinical services), and
    • 502 school-based service program sites.

We will continue to highlight select examples of DMH’s system, programs, and achievements in future periodic updates.

For more information, please contact Tracy LaPointe at (803) 898-8582 or