Local mental health facility faces closing

By Karrie Leggett – email | bio

PURVIS, MS (WDAM) -  With the 2011 state legislative session underway and state agencies on the budgetary chopping block. All eyes are on what will get cut and how much.

According to South Mississippi State Hospital Director, Wynona Winfield, many Mental Health Facilities are finding themselves at serious point with a Legislative budget being the only way out.

"If we are not able to get the over all funding that the Department of Mental Health needs for our state wide system, we will have closures across the state," said Winfield.

If that happens, Winfield says her facility will be left with no financial treatment.

"The way we have had to make it up mostly is by saving in other areas, and we continue to do that. We are just at a point as is the entire department of mental health at a point where there is hardly any place else to save," said Winfield.

Winfield says if closings happen the ones who will  largely be affected are the patients. Most will be stuck on a waiting list to other facilities or  worse.

"Many times people who've been committed for psychiatric services actually have to wait in jail, and that is not a good thing. It is not a crime to be mentally ill. They get worse while they are waiting in jail to get treatment," said Winfield.

Winfield believes in state leaders and is hoping they can come to a funding solution soon.

"I am hopeful always because i do believe that our legislative leaders as well as our local legislators understand the severity of the situation."

Proposed budget or not thousands of people will be affected by the decision when the Legislature wraps up.

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