State Lawmakers Tour Georgia Regional

Georgia Regional Hospital was in danger of being shut down when Gov. Sonny Perdue looked to cut $115 million from the budget. The state Department of Human Resources found the money to keep it open, but state lawmakers have the final say. Some toured the mental health facility today. They told us they were impressed with Georgia Regional and what the facility is able to do, which is exactly what one Georgia senator and the people at Georgia Regional want to hear.

Sen. Eric Johnson (R-Savannah) arranged the visit. He says their support is critical for Georgia Regional's future. "I think they're learning the same thing that we did when this hospital was put on the chopping block," he said. "Who it serves, why it's here, how short-term the patients stays are here."

Georgia Regional says by working closely with families, most patients stay less than ten days before they can return to their loved ones or a setting like a group home. That's care that could be much more difficult if the hospital closed and patients were forced to move to the state facility in Milledgeville instead.

It certainly reinforced what I've been told, that this facility is geographically located where we really need it, in my district, particularly, because my district is all included in the service area of Georgia Regional," said Sen. Jack Hill (R-Reidsville).

With an upcoming vote in Congress in January, Georgia Regional Hospital and the Department of Human Resources hope that this visit will put lawmakers on their side. "What I want them to understand is that we're a very active facility, that we work hard with our limited resources to provide services that are critical to this community," said the hospital's Dr. Frank Drummond.

"I was very impressed and moved," said Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons). "These kids have tremendous needs and seeing them here helps me make the right kind of decision when it comes to budgeting this process."

Reported by: Liz Flynn,