SC Department of Mental Health News Release

January 8, 2002
For Immediate Release

Contact: John Hutto, Director of Communications


Mental Health Commission Approves Plan for Housing Substance Abuse Shelter

Columbia, SC: Today at the monthly meeting of the Mental Health Commission, commission members approved a plan by the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to begin negotiations with Palmetto Health Alliance (PHA) to establish a sobering shelter for people with substance abuse problems. The program will be located in the Cooper Building, a facility in downtown Columbia owned by DMH, on the grounds of the State Hospital.

Because of the ongoing patient backup in their emergency rooms, PHA approached DMH with a proposal to establish a 40-bed shelter in a DMH building to divert clients under the influence of drugs or alcohol from the emergency rooms. Further, DMH believes that the shelter will help to reduce inappropriate admissions to its Bryan Psychiatric Hospital, thus freeing the beds for clients needing acute psychiatric treatment. The shelter will also take referrals from Columbia Area Community Mental Health Center.

The center is planned to be funded by Palmetto Health Alliance, the City of Columbia, and Richland County. Staffing will be provided by the Lexington, Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission (LRADAC).

Around South Carolina, DMH continues to explore ways to help other local hospitals find alternatives to emergency room care. In Charleston, for example, Charleston/Dorchester Community Mental Health Center currently contracts for psychiatric beds with the Medical University of South Carolina and with Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Healthcare Hospital. In Beaufort, Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Center contracts with Beaufort Memorial Hospital for psychiatric beds. In addition, DMH community mental health centers in Greenville, Sumter, Dillon and other locations are discussing with local hospitals ways to provide needed services more effectively for emergencies.

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