SC Department of Mental Health News Release

For Immediate Release
March 20, 2003

Contact:  SCDMH John Hutto, (803) 898-8584
                SCDAODAS John Hart   (803) 896-6000
                SCHA Jim Head   (803) 796-3080

 SCDMH Provides Grants for Local Crisis Programs

Columbia, SC – With over 250 public and private psychiatric hospital beds having closed in South Carolina over the past few years, state healthcare leaders know that jails and local emergency rooms are fast becoming the crisis programs for people suffering from a mental illness and a substance abuse disorder (co-occurring disorder).

To help solve this problem, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH)  has provided $500,000 to start or enhance four crisis stabilization programs around South Carolina for people suffering from a co-occurring disorder. Joining the SCDMH community mental health centers in the operation of these programs will be members of the South Carolina Hospital Association (SCHA), local commissions of the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (SCDAODAS), county sheriffs’ departments, and other community groups.

Among the many benefits outlined in the grants are adding crisis beds, increasing staff, improving transportation services, expanding hours of operation, improving accessibility for services, freeing up beds in local hospitals and emergency departments, and making less use of expensive state psychiatric beds.

The SCDMH community mental health centers receiving the grants include Charleston/Dorchester CMHC, Pee-Dee CMHC in Florence, Spartanburg CMHC, and Waccamaw CMHC in Conway.

  • Charleston/Dorchester CMHC($ 92,820): to expand the capacity of the mental health center’s Tri-county Crisis Stabilization Center, move it into the same building with the Charleston Center Detoxification Unit (DAODAS), and enable the Charleston Center to accept admissions around-the-clock. Also involved in the collaboration are the Medical Society of South Carolina, the Berkeley CMHC, local hospitals, the sheriff’s office, and the alcohol and drug commission in Berkeley and Dorchester counties.
  • Pee Dee CMHC ( $75,000): partnering with Bruce Hall( a detoxification/chemical dependency facility), with Carolina Pines Hospital, with Circle Park (Florence Drug and Alcohol Commission). Plans are to expand beds, provide psychiatric consultation, and begin cross training and program development with Circle Park.
  • Spartanburg CMHC ($131,321): working with the Spartanburg Drug and Alcohol Commission’s Detoxification Center to add four beds for patients with co-occurring disorder; also includes mental health staff support at the center; meals and security provided by the Spartanburg Detention Center.
  • Waccamaw CMHC ($99,154): the multi-agency initiative involving Waccamaw CMHC, Georgetown Drug and Alcohol Commission, Georgetown Hospital System, Georgetown County sheriff, the City of Georgetown; will provide crisis services for up to five males; will include a facility for treatment, transportation, meals and security.

Said SCDMH State Director George P. Gintoli, “The DMH, DAODAS, and the SCHA are partnering to lead in the design of systems of care for South Carolina. In a small way, these grants will enable us to focus our collaborative efforts on the issues in the emergency rooms and jails in our state. Local planning in our communities needs to intensify so that all stake holders can be part of the solution.”

DAODAS Executive Director Lee Catoe added, “It’s important for us to be involved in these initiatives, and we are excited about the proactive collaborations underway. Permanent local work groups, with state agency support, will be able to resolve the problems in ways best suited to their needs.”

Jeffrey Moore, executive director of the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association, believes that the crisis stabilization grants are a “win – win” for everyone involved. He said, “Crisis stabilization is absolutely the key to keeping people with mental illness from falling into our criminal justice system…and relieving law enforcement from having to sit days or weeks in emergency rooms waiting for a mental health bed to become available.”

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Illness, within the last twelve months, 28.8 percent of the general population ages 15-54 had a concurrent mental illness and substance abuse disorder. Further, within the last twelve months, 14.7 percent of people with a mental illness also had a current substance abuse disorder, and 42.7 percent of people with a current substance abuse disorder also had a current mental illness.

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