Monday, October 15, 2007

They're going to win a Pulitzer

I wrote a couple of pieces about the state's mental health system for today's paper.

One focuses on Central State Hospital in Milledgeville.

The other is a broader look at a new sense of optimism and potential increased spending after the Department of Justice kicked off its investigation into the system.

I asked most of the advocates that I interviewed for these stories how much credit The AJC deserves for getting things to turn on this issue. At least, they seem to be turning. The AJC's fantastic series, written by Alan Judd and Andy Miller, is online here.

Basically, their answer was: A ton. They also had kind words for Don Schanche, who wrote a lot about mental health before he left The Telegraph for The Associated Press.

The state didn't give The AJC the same credit when I asked how much the newspaper's reporting had to do with this new funding push.

"I would say that The AJC told the public a story that many of us work in every day," said Gwen Skinner, who heads the DHR division responsible for the state's mental hospitals.

It took her a while to get that out, with lots of pauses.

State officials can downplay The AJC's role in this. They can say recent budget requests and hiring pushes aren't related to the Department of Justice showing up at their doorstep with an investigative team.

But don't kid yourself. Journalism works. Take that, Bill Shipp.

2 comments:

VictoratGaImproper said...

-yea, yea, yea but it takes a group of activists to turn intellectualism into action: Andy & Alan better give Georgia Improper honorable mention as a contributing activist but you're right,it's gonna get a pulitzer or nobel:

-And, lay off Mr Shipp before i go activist on ya...If everyone would get over their Open Record Request phobia, the world would be a saner place.

"A HIDDEN SHAME: DEATH IN GEORGIA'S MENTAL HOSPITALS"
By ALAN JUDD and ANDY MILLER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on Jan. 7, 2007


-72 days prior:

To: djsmith2@dhr.ga.gov
Friday October 27, 2006

To: Ms B.J. Walker, Georgia Department of Human Resources
From: Victor Jones, Macon, Georgia

Re: DHR Open Records request.

Dear Ms Walker,

Under the Georgia Open Records laws, please furnish the following via the least expensive and most timely method available. Per your instructions to me in late August, I am forwarding this request to Ms Dena Smith, Director of the Office of Communications and local/state and national press agencies.

1) Monthly number of adult mental health admissions for the past two years to state mental health hospitals.

2) Monthly number of adult mental health discharges for the past two years to state mental health hospitals.

3) Average length of stay for adult mental health consumers in state hospitals for the last two years.

4) Monthly number of adult mental health admissions for the fiscal years 2000 and 2001.

5) Monthly number of adult mental health discharges for fiscal years 2000
And 2001 from state mental health hospitals.

6) Average length of stay for adult mental health consumers in state hospitals for fiscal years 2000 and 2001.

7) Number of adult mental health consumers in long term care beds in state mental health hospitals for 2002.

8) Average length of stay for adult mental health consumers in long term care beds in state mental hospitals for 2002.

9) Number of adult mental health consumers in long erm care beds in stte mental health hospitals for 2006.


10) Average length of stay for adult mental health consumers in long term care beds in state mental hospitals for 2006.

11) Individual budgets for each state mental health hospital for state fiscal years 2002 to 2007.


Hope this note finds you in better shape than our Georgia Mental Health Care and Prison System.

Thank you,

Victor Jones

Alison said...

Could you please move to Virginia?

Thank you for your work on problems that so rarely get any news coverage at all.

Alison Hymes
http://hymes.wordpress.com