Coweta County, the Coweta Hospital Authority and Pathways will be partnering to build new mental health crisis stabilization units for children and adults in Coweta.
The 24-bed adult unit and 12-bed youth and adolescent unit will be built on land owned by Coweta County, adjacent to the health department building on Hospital Road in Newnan.
The new units will replace Pathways’ existing crisis stabilization facilities. Second Season, in LaGrange, is for adults, and there is a youth facility in Meriwether County, said Pathways CEO Jade Benefield.
The Coweta County Board of Commissioners voted Thursday night to approve a memorandum of understanding with the hospital authority for the project.
Under the partnership agreement, the hospital authority will provide up to $5.5 million in funding to build the two facilities. Coweta County will provide project management services to get the buildings built. Those including putting the project out to bid and overseeing construction.
The hospital authority manages money from the 1982 sale of Coweta General Hospital to Humana.
The authority will lease the facilities to Pathways over a 20-year period. The lease payments are intended to reimburse the authority for the cost of the construction. Once the 20 years is up, the facilities will be transferred to Coweta, which will continue leasing the facilities to Pathways.
According to the memorandum, if Pathways terminates the lease, the hospital authority and the county “shall cooperate to locate a new tenant and the authority shall collect lease payments from the new tenant until such time that they receive reimbursement of funds related to this agreement.”
Pathways is a “community service board” which provides services for those with mental health issues, developmental disabilities, and substance addiction problems in a 10-county area. It is authorized by the state, and there are community service boards all over the state.
Pathways receives some state funding and serves patients who have insurance as well as those who do not.
A “certificate of need” from the state is not required for this project, according to Coweta County Administrator Michael Fouts and Benefield.
“It’s a really exciting collaboration between Pathways, the Hospital Authority, the Coweta Commissioners and the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities,” said Benefield.
“I’m very excited that all this good work and partnership has come together to create something that I think the county and everyone will be very proud of.”
According to Benefield, crisis stabilization facilities are short-term units for people who are posing a risk of harm to themselves or others.
“We’re trying to stabilize them and create a plan for them to be able to transition back into society,” he said. Counselors work with the clients to set up appointments and work with local care providers, or to transition them to a longer-term facility.
A typical stay is four to five days, though some patients may stay 10 days, or possibly longer if there is a wait for a bed to become available at a longer-term facility.
Currently, Pathways operates a mental health crisis walk-in facility in Coweta at 59 Hospital Road. Those having a mental health crisis can come to the facility 24/7. A person who comes to the facility is evaluated and can stay as long as 24 hours, before being either sent home with resources and appointments, or going to another facility, such as Second Season. Pathways also has its local mental health clinic at 59 Hospital Road.
The walk-in center will move to the new crisis stabilization facility when it opens, according to Benefield.
The project moves several Pathways services onto one campus, in a centralized location. The facilities can take patients from all over the state, and LaGrange isn’t a particularly convenient location, he explained. Coweta is.
Pathways is the community service board for Coweta, Carroll, Heard, Troup, Meriwether, Pike, Upson, Lamar, Butts and Spalding counties.
Having the walk-in unit adjacent to the crisis stabilization unit will be particularly helpful. “If we deem that they need crisis stabilization, they can go right down the hall,” Benefield said.
The new facilities will be designed with a “very non-institutional feel,” he said. “We’ve been across the state and viewed several other facilities that we’re modeling this after.”
He hopes to see work begin on the project soon. Once all the agreements are signed, “we’re going to aggressively put together some timelines and start working towards it,” he said.