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March 10, 2014

Correctional health care company closes on CSH property

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) announced the sale of the former Bostick State Prison facility and 16 acres of land Friday.

CorrectHealth LLP, an Atlanta based correctional health care company, will create a continuing geriatric care facility for a large parolee population not currently served by Georgia prisons, tabbed for a late 2015 opening.

This significant sale finalized Thursday will result in the first private ownership of any site at the former Central State Hospital, which includes more than 200 buildings and approximately 2,150 acres.

“Our job as an authority was to repurpose the facility and get it on the tax rolls. It only takes one to get started. This begins the process,” CSHLRA Executive Director Mike Couch said.

The campus' first major real estate transfer to a new industry took eight months. Couch said everyone was “extremely cautious” to do the first transaction right.

The state accepted CorrectHealth's $50,000 bid for the former Bostick State Prison facility last October.

The State Properties Commission (SPC) completed the deed for execution on Jan. 9. At that time, involved parties realized CSH has to establish a public easement in and out of the 16-acre Bostick parcel.

The prison sits at the end of Lawrence Road.

Legal counsel established a permanent easement that fit into what the City of Milledgeville described as a road. Otherwise, there was the potential for “a Bostick island.”

“We didn't want to land lock them in for the future,” the CSHLRA executive director said. “They will have guaranteed access to their site. It took a long time to get that done. That's why we stretched the closing another 45 days.”

The Bostick Building, in its current state, had no future market value or potential reuse. Couch said the building condition had a negative effect on the value of the entire site.

Beginning this spring, CorrectHealth will demolish the existing building and construct a “state of the art” geriatric care facility valued at more than $20 million when completed in late 2015. The new building will have 280 beds.

“I've heard numbers that there are over 700 geriatric parolees that have no place to go,” Couch said. “They've paid their debt to society. This will become some place safe for them to spend the rest of their life.”

Dr. Carlo Musso, president of CorrectHealth Companies, said the Georgia Department of Community Health has “fully vetted and validated” the project.

“The primary special population proposed to be served by the Bostick Nursing Center is comprised of medically fragile parolees that currently have limited access to skilled nursing and residential intermediate care outside the prison system. The size of this population of medically fragile, parole eligible inmates is large and growing rapidly, due, in part, to the aging of the inmate population,” Musso said. “The number of inmates in state custody who are age 50 or over increased by an astounding 590 percent in the last 20 years and shows no sign of slowing.”

Musso said the proposed secondary special population consists of individuals with severe psychiatric and behavioral health conditions that are wards of the state and typically must be held in a restricted environment.

The new Bostick Nursing Center will hire more than 200 permanent staff members offering a tremendous boost to Milledgeville's local economy not to mention construction jobs.

“We are pleased CorrectHealth selected our community for their facility. Their investment in terms of employment, value to our local economy and the county tax digest is tremendous,” Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley said Friday.

The old hospital land lies within City Councilwoman Jeanette Walden's District 2. She said the redevelopment efforts began with the city that fully funds the board.

Walden said that “blind faith” decision is paying off.

“Two hundred jobs gives us a lot of hope,” the councilwoman said. “This is a proud day for the City of Milledgeville.”

Baldwin County Commissioner Henry Craig, District 4, said Milledgeville's investment at CSH caused “a watershed event in our community.”

“These acres are now going to be paying taxes in Baldwin County and that has not happened to any of this property in 170 years,” Craig said.

The CSHLRA has reason to celebrate the Bostick deal.

CSHLRA Vice Chair Dudley Rowe thanked supporters that “cleared the runway” for the organization's efforts to take off.

“At the end of the day, we've only been in business for about 18 months, and this is a big kick,” Rowe said. “We will build on this success.”

The SPC and the governor's office finally understand the CSH redevelopment vision and support the plan. Bentley mentioned the successful legislative track of two state property bills affecting CSH.

If House Bill 495 and the State Property Omnibus Bill pass this session ending in less than two weeks, the CSH authority can immediately work to make numerous decaying buildings market ready.

“When we started this process two years ago, we didn’t anticipate this day coming so quickly. Now, we can see proof from our work,” Couch said. “Anybody that’s comes to look here understands there is opportunity and potential. Time is our worst enemy. We have to get on top of it now.”

CorrectHealth is physician owned and operated and provides cost-effective, comprehensive high quality health care services to correctional facilities.

The company currently oversees the correctional health care to nearly 15,000 inmates in more than 40 facilities in the southeastern United States and is the largest private provider of correctional healthcare in the State of Georgia.

The entity works closely with the Georgia Jail, Sheriff’s and Prison Wardens associations, according to CorrectHealth’s website.

The Georgia Department of Corrections (DOC) closed the 700-bed Bostick State Prison effective May 1, 2010 to save on DOC operational costs.

Bostick is an old 1950s dorm that was converted to a prison in 1987.  

The facility was considered a “non-enduring” infrastructure because it lacks the safety features of other state prisons and required more staff to secure. The prison previously housed medium security inmates, as well as those with special needs.

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