SC Department of Mental Health News Release


November 4, 2003
For Immediate Release
Contact: John Hutto, Public Affairs
              (w)    803-898-8584
              (pgr) 803-929-8668

SCDMH Awards $1.7 Million in Crisis Stabilization Grants:
   Will Help Reduce Number of People with Mental Illness in
          Local Emergency Departments

Columbia, SC: The South Carolina Department of Mental Health (SCDMH) has awarded over $1.7 million in grants to ten of its seventeen community mental health centers across South Carolina.

The dual purpose of the grants is for mental health centers to implement programs that will help reduce the numbers of people with mental illness waiting in local emergency departments and to reduce the number of beds used in the state’s two psychiatric hospitals, the Columbia Behavioral Health System and Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital, Anderson, SC.

Said State Mental Health Director George P. Gintoli, “It is our belief that a continued focus on coalition building with the local alcohol and drug abuse centers, local hospitals, sheriff departments, and probate judges is essential in managing the overcrowding of behavioral health patients in hospital emergency departments.

“Further, it is vital that our community mental health centers initiate community programs that will help to prevent both unnecessary hospital emergency room visits as well as inpatient psychiatric admissions. These grants are a positive step in helping communities work together to solve common problems,” he said.

The funding period for the grants runs from November 1, 2003, until June 30, 2004.

During this period, mental health centers will be required to report the progress they are making in meeting their goals.

In addition to the $1.7 million for crisis stabilization programs, SCDMH has also made available to its mental health centers $1.5 million to provide over one-hundred community housing options for patients leaving the hospital. Through SCDMH’s Towards Local Care (TLC) initiative, patients who are clinically appropriate will gradually be reintegrated into their communities. This endeavor will enable SCDMH to make more acute care beds available in its psychiatric hospitals, thus easing the burden on emergency departments in local hospitals.

The community mental health centers receiving the crisis stabilization grants include Columbia Area MHC, Lexington County CMHC, Charleston/Dorchester CMHC, Coastal Empire CMHC(Beaufort), Catawba CMHC(Rock Hill), Beckman Center for Mental Health Services(Greenwood), Greenville MHC, Aiken-Barnwell MHC, Waccamaw Center for Mental Health (Conway), and Orangeburg Area MHC.

Since 1828, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health has served the behavioral healthcare needs of South Carolinians. It is the largest behavioral healthcare entity in the state, providing services through a network of seventeen community mental health centers, two nursing homes, and two psychiatric hospitals.

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