Move from state hospitals worsens plight of some disabled adults

Four years ago, Georgia promised to move all mentally disabled people out of its state psychiatric hospitals to homes in their communities. But many of those who have been deinstitutionalized so far appear to be even worse off than when they lived in the state facilities, an investigation by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.

More than half the facilities now housing people with developmental disabilities have been cited for violating standards of care or have been implicated in abusing or neglecting residents, the Journal-Constitution learned through an examination of 5,000 pages of state inspection and investigation reports.

Forty people died after moving from institutions to group homes and other community-based facilities. Many died from natural causes. But at least 30 of the deaths had not been expected.

With almost 350 disabled people remaining in state hospitals, officials suspended transfers in January to correct problems.

“We have to do this right, not quickly,” said Frank Berry, commissioner of the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities.

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Read more about the troubled transition in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday and on MyAJC.com.

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