South Mississippi State hospital may be forced to shut down - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

South Mississippi State hospital in Purvis may be forced to shut down

By Sheri Falk - bio | email | Twitter

PURVIS, MS (WDAM) - The Mississippi Department of Mental Health could be closing the doors to four facilities across the state.

South Mississippi State Hospital in Purvis, which serves mentally ill patients from nine counties, may be one of them.

"We know that with the budget situation coming up for  2012 that there are some serious deficits that have to be handled with all state agencies and in particular with the Department of Mental Health," said Director of South Mississippi State Hospital Wynona Winfield.

$44 million is needed in order to maintain existing programs across the state.

Winfield wants to make sure members of the community as well as family members of patients know of the seriousness of this situation.

"When we go into the legislative session in January our legislators need to  be fully aware of the impact cutting this program out in this part of our state will have."

The Purvis facility opened it's doors in 2000 and has served more than 4,000 patients.

"It certainly ideal for our patients to be able to access care in an outpatient setting in the community. However,we do know that many of our patients can't go completely without a periodic in-patient stay in a facility such as ours."

Which would leave many with a mental illness out on the streets or in jail.

"Over the past decade the department of mental health has tried very hard to keep people out of jail. It is not a crime to be mentally ill and that's not an appropriate place."

Winfield says holding those with a mental illness in jail without proper treatment is a hardship not only to the patient but law enforcement as well and  closing the doors to proper treatment facilities will leave no other option.

"We will probably see our waiting list go up again for people waiting to get those services that would remain in our state which would be at Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield and East Mississippi  State Hospital in Meridian. Both of those facilities are down sizing as well so the resources for the mentally ill will diminish significantly and our patients will suffer and the families of our patients will suffer."

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