A 3 On Your Side exclusive, state budget cuts are being blamed for the possible closure of a facility that cares for more than 400 people who need mental health services. The Central Mississippi Residential Center helps patients with Alzheimer's, other forms of dementia and serious mental illnesses. At a public meeting in Raleigh, those concerned about the closure spoke out... Hoping someone will listen and help keep the doors open.
This room was packed with those concerned about what it will mean to Smith County if the Central Mississippi Residential Center closes.
"We've provided services for more than 450 individuals last year alone and many of these people without these services will end up on the streets homeless, will end up in the jails waiting for beds at state hospital", said Debbie Ferguson, Director of CMRC.
Not only residents but Sheriff Charlie Crumpton is also concerned.
"I've been sheriff here for 15 years and there was a time I kept people in this jail here anywhere from 8 to 10 weeks. These people have never committed a crime in their lives, some of them have never even had a traffic ticket and I've kept them in jail with no medication for their mental illnesses and if we go back to closing our centers that's what's going to happen to all the local sheriff's in the county", Crumpton said.
CMRC provides adult day services for those with Alzheimer's disease, group homes that help patients with serious mental illnesses develop skills . 48 men and women live in the group homes. 118 employees could lose their jobs. Some would be able to transfer to other available positions.
"When you're 60 years old and you have a 40 year old son in the home with you and he has mental illness sometimes they become violent or they have other issues that the parent can't deal with, the family can't do it. They become afraid of them", Smith County Chancery Clerk, Cindy Austin said.
"I would hate to see people who have a mental illness sit in jail where they are not receiving treatment when they could go straight to the facility and receive the treatment that they need", said Cindy Austin who lives in the area.
A total of four facilities are targeted for closure according to Ferguson, including The Mississippi Adolescent Center in Brookhaven. 9 counties would be impacted by the closure of CMRC including Smith, Leake, and Scott counties. A crisis center in Hinds County would also be closed.
We are told the Department of Mental Health has had more than 20 million dollars in budget cuts in the last 3 years. Another public meeting is scheduled for October 19th in Newton.
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