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License move by MAC good news for area

A collective sigh of relief came up from Brookman DriveExtension recently as employees at the Mississippi AdolescentCenter learned of a licensing approval that should ensure thefuture of the mental health facility in Brookhaven.

Indeed, the Intermediate Care Facility/Mentally Retarded (ICF/MR)license itself may not set off any bells or whistles, but itsimpact on MAC’s funding structure is certainly cause forcelebration for employees, the clients the facility serves, thiscommunity and the state as a whole. What the license does is putMAC in line to receive Medicaid funding, which will greatly reducethe monetary need the facility has had on the state.

Previously, MAC was 100 percent dependant on state general fundmonies for funding its approximately $3 million budget. Now, withthe federal government kicking in about 75 percent of the facilityfunding under Medicaid matching provisions, MAC officials areanticipating about a $2 million savings to the state in thefacility’s estimated $3.4 million budget for the new fiscalyear.

Because of less dependence on the state, MAC’s 65 employees canbreathe a little easier about their job futures. Those employees’salaries, as well as MAC’s efforts to do business locally, can havea significant impact on the Brookhaven and Lincoln Countyeconomy.

Furthermore, center leaders are hopeful to be able to add 15 to 16employees in the future and re-open a dorm that was closed lastyear due to budget constraints. That would be good news for thecommunity in the form of new jobs and for clients in need of carebecause of the restored dorm operations.

With savings from MAC operations in hand, state leaders coulddirect that money to other mental health facilities in thestate.

The crisis intervention centers, including one in Brookhaven, couldbe a worthy destination. Like MAC, those facilities – which provideshort-term care for mentally ill patients awaiting space at alarger hospital – were often mentioned as possible targets forclosure last year and earlier this year amid difficult budgetdiscussions.

Regardless of the course taken on other facilities, the staff atthe Mississippi Adolescent Center has taken a needed, positive stepto improve its financial standing and its ability to serve familiesin need of care. In these difficult times, that represents a brightspot and a good move that many can cheer.