Support grows for new behavioral hospital
by Clay Neely
Numerous local and state leaders have formally endorsed support for the proposed Newnan Behavioral Hospital, planned for the old Coweta General Hospital campus on Newnan’s west side.
More than 45 letters of support have been written in support of the proposed facility.
The state Department of Community Health is holding a meeting on Dec. 5 which will determine the future of the Newnan Behavioral Hospital. The meeting is closed to the public and the final decision of the DCH will be made at a later date.
Newnan Behavioral Hospital’s parent group, U.S. HealthVest, provides specialized psychiatric care services, including substance abuse treatment, through inpatient and outpatient programs. The company is based in the United States.
Among the comments in the support letters:
“I can attest that there is a huge void in the availability of behavioral healthcare services in the proposed service area,” said Dr. Jeffrey Folk, vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer for Piedmont Newnan Hospital. “Efforts to secure a bed for adults is more often delayed, sometimes up to 100 hours as recently was the case.”
The Coweta Commission on Veterans Affairs voiced their support for the facility, citing the needs of veterans and their families.
“A local program that provides specialized treatment to military members and veterans will be a welcome complement to the services provided by the Department of Defense and Veteran’s Administration hospitals in Georgia,” said Joe Brooks, co-chair of the CCVA.
“The CCVA is dedicated to sharing with the public about the sacrifices made by our military families and to raise awareness of the issues military families face. In promoting this awareness within the community, we have become more aware of the fact that additional medical assistance is needed for our local military families,” said Brooks.
Newnan Mayor Keith Brady also expressed his support for the facility, noting the job creation and the rapidly expanding population of Coweta County as key reasons.
“As the population continues to grow, the number of residents that need inpatient psychiatric care will also grow. Increasing the inpatient psych bed capacity in Coweta County, and especially Newnan, is critical in order to address the current and future needs of our community,” Brady said. “Newnan Behavioral Hospital will also benefit the local community with the creation of approximately 200 jobs. These positions will provide employment opportunities in health care services that serve Newnan and the surrounding areas.”
Newnan Chief of Police, Douglas “Buster” Meadows, expressed his support of the facility, believing it to be a benefit for the local citizens.
“Currently there are no existing inpatient psychiatric and/or substance abuse facilities in this service area. The Newnan Behavioral Hospital would be of great benefit and a valuable asset to the community in the five-county area. Newnan would also be the ideal location for family members to have access to their loved ones and to assist with their recovery,” said Meadows. “I also understand that with their secured facility, it will not create an undue burden upon the Newnan Police Department for added calls for service. They will have a secured facility with on-duty security personnel.”
Tom Freeman, president of Lighthouse Counseling Center, expressed the need for a more local option for treatment of those in need of psychiatric care.
“A local psychiatric hospital would be welcomed by our office. It would provide the citizens of Coweta, Fayette, Troup, Heard and Meriwether counties local access to needed psychiatric services,” said Freeman. “Newnan Behavioral plans to offer services for children and the elderly. Both are sorely needed services in our area. Children often have to go to north Atlanta or Riverdale for services. Having these services locally would increase utilization and provide significant help for this population.”
“Currently, we have to send patients to Atlanta hospitals an hour away for assessment and hospitalization. Our clients must wait hours if they must be assessed in the local emergency room. A local facility would eliminate or reduce this wait,” said Freeman.
The Rev. Dr. Joel Richardson, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Newnan, expressed the support for the facility as well.
“I have been a pastor in Newnan for the last 29 years and am acutely aware of the fact that there are no treatment facilities close to us providing the services outlined in the proposal from Newnan Behavioral Hospital,” said Richardson.
“We were delighted to hear about the range of programs directed toward the needs of all ages — pediatric, youth, adults, senior adults, as well as military veterans,” said Richardson. “The possibility that a psychiatric inpatient facility with this range of services might be available in our own community would be a true blessing.”
According to Sister Edge Ward, speaking on behalf of the Thompson Victory Group, "Local support is incredibly important and a key consideration the Department of Community Health weighs during the Certificate Of Need process and this proposed project has received overwhelming local community support. The tremendous support and outreach from the community are driven by the unmet need for this type of facility in the service area."