When state Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville, took the well of the state House last week to talk about legislation to help Georgians with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries, he also made sure state legislators know about the pain being suffered by Adult Mental Health Services employees at Central State Hospital.
Using a chair that helps him to stand upright, Kidd took the well, the podium at the front of the House or Senate from which legislators address the entire chamber, to admonish state lawmakers on Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities official’s handling of the closing of Adult Mental Health Services program and the Powell Building at Central State.
“I literally stood up to impress colleagues and to keep them quite while I informed them about the insensitivity of Behavioral Health [officials] and how they inappropriately handled terminations and the closing of the Powell Building,” Kidd said.
Kidd told The Union-Recorder that he has been incensed by the barrage of communications his office is receiving from Central State Hospital employees who have been treated unfairly in the shuttering of Adult Mental Health Services at Central State. Talking to The Union-Recorder, Kidd recounted the story of one CSH employee who lived in a state-owned house with their two children. Kidd said the employee told him that when the announcements went out informing employees that they no longer had jobs, this employee’s pink slip was followed by a notice that their family needed to vacate their home because it is only to be rented to current state employees.
“Not only is this person being fired, they’re being kicked out of their home too,” Kidd said. “The way they are treating these employees-especially those who have been there a long time and are close to retirement — is a sin.”
Kidd said it is clear from legislators’ reactions that people from different parts of the state outside of the Middle Georgia region are not hearing about the closing of Central State and the fate of employees there.
“I hope [legislators and DBHDD officials] hear this and take it to heart, so that they will be more sensitive to employees — all employees not just new or long-time employees — now and in the future,” he said. “Everyone needs to be aware that these are people who have had jobs there for a long time, and to lose a job is very serious. [The legislature and state government] need to help them transition into new jobs.”