A ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the grand opening ceremonies Tuesday afternoon for the new Bostick Nursing Center on the campus of Central State Hospital in Milledgeville.
The event brought out several local state dignitaries, as well as Dr. Carlo Musso, a well-known geriatrics corrections physician in Georgia, whose dream of building such a facility is now a reality.
Bostick Nursing Center will employ 330 employees when fully operational. It will become the new home for nearly 300 aging and infirmed former prison inmates who have served their sentencing terms, but who now require various medical treatment or supervision.
The new 280-bed nursing facility will bolster economic development and revitalization of the Central State Hospital campus and something “very much needed, because it provides a lot of jobs for this area,” said Mike Couch, executive director of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority.
He welcomed everyone in attendance.
“We welcome you to this great event in the history of redevelopment and repurpose of the state hospital campus,” Couch said. “It’s a great day in Milledgeville and Baldwin County.”
Without Dr. Musso’s vision, such an event wouldn’t have been possible, Couch said.
Carolyn Dallas, who works in the Milledgeville office for U.S. Congressman Jody Hice was there to speak on behalf of the 10th District Georgia lawmaker.
She said Hice wanted to extend his congratulations to Dr. Musso, CSHLRA, and to thank all of those affiliated with the new Bostick Nursing Center for what she described as “a tremendous accomplishment” and making such a reality in Milledgeville.
“This is a tremendous boost to the Milledgeville local economy and to the 10th District,” Dallas said.
Georgia State Sen. Burt Jones (R-Jackson) also addressed the large crowd during the grand opening ceremony.
“It’s a beautiful day in Milledgeville, Ga.,” said Jones. “I say that for two reasons – one is that it’s been 50 days since we’ve had rain, and for obvious reasons, this wonderful day, dedicating this building. I want to thank all of those involved in making this happen.”
Jones thanked Couch, and members of the CSHLRA board, and the partnership of the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners, and Milledgeville City Council.
“People always ask me what is Milledgeville like,” Jones said. “I tell them it’s a great quaint little town. And the people have a lot of pride about their community. And when people have a lot of pride about their community, they will work hard to make it a safe and happy place to live.”
Jones went on to say, too, that without the vision of Dr. Musso such a dream could never have taken place.
He then asked everyone there to join him in a round of applause for Musso, who was joined by his wife, Teresa.
Rep. Rusty Kidd (I-Milledgeville) also addressed the crowd.
“A lot of you don’t know the loops and hurdles that Dr. Musso had to go through to get this end result,” Kidd said.
He commended Musso on staying the course and for jumping through the hoops along the way to make Tuesday a reality.
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee also talked about the accomplishment of Musso.
“This is a great building,” Massee said, noting that he had known Musso and his wife for several years and that they have been longtime corporate sponsors of the Georgia Sheriff’s Association.
Baldwin County did well, he said.
“Baldwin County did well for this reason,” Massee said. “We didn’t just get a building. To be honest with you, we got Carlo Musso.”
Musso, owner and chief executive officer of CorrectLife, said he worked closely with members of the CSHLRA and couldn’t have done what he did when it comes to the project without them and their dedicated support.
“I couldn’t have done this without their (CSHLRA) support,” Musso said, noting that he really appreciated their hard work and support of the project.
Musso, whom Couch described as a man of persistence and perseverance, said he was deeply honored.
“I’m receiving all of these wonderful comments, but in truth, this was a team sport, and I’m a member of a large team,” Musso said. “The number one member of my team is sitting right there. And that’s my wife.”
He pointed to his wife, Teresa.
Musso said such a project had required a lot of outside the box thinking.
He later thanked everyone who has been part of making his dream a reality.
“I’ve said from the very beginning that we can’t look backwards and forward at the same time,” said Quay Fuller, who serves as chairwoman of the CSHLRA. “Sometimes we have to step out of the past and look towards the future.”
She was referring to the fact that Central State Hospital state officials closed the facility several years ago. It left a lot of people, many of whom live in Milledgeville and Baldwin County without a job.
“Things do change and this is the start of change,” Fuller said. “It’s one of several projects that we have out here at the hospital. Those are properties and we are more than thrilled to actually have another one come to fruition.”
She called it a win-win situation and said the future is even brighter for Central State Hospital now that Bostick Nursing Center is about to open its doors to residents.
“I’m so honored to be around such like-minded people, who have a straight forward and simple focus, and that is to make Milledgeville and Baldwin County the best that we can,” Fuller said. “We have a great board and a great executive director.
“The future is very, very bright,” she added with a big smile.
Baldwin County Commission Chairman Sammy Hall said he and the other four county commissioners are glad to see the new nursing facility become a reality.
“We’re glad to be able to put people back to work,” Hall said. “It’s going to add to our tax base and we’re so proud that Dr. Musso selected Milledgeville and Baldwin County for this new facility. It’s a great day.”
Hall said he was fortunate to have been present when the ground was broken for the construction of the new Bostick Nursing Home.
“To see this project come to fruition is a great day of success for this county,” Hall said.
Milledgeville Mayor Gary L. Thrower also expressed pleasure about the new nursing facility having been built here.
“This is the culmination of a lot of work from a lot of people who had forethought several years ago to put this authority (CHSLRA) together and to then explore opportunities for this property,” Thrower said. “The Lord has blessed us with Dr. Musso and his dream.”
The mayor said bringing new jobs to Milledgeville and Baldwin County was critical because it’s something that’s been needed for a long time.
He, like Hall, also expressed pleasure in the fact that the new business would be added to the local tax roll.
Milledgeville City Council Alderwoman Jeanette Walden, who serves District 2 residents, called Tuesday an exciting day.
“I’m just so proud that someone has taken an interest in our community to invest,” Walden said. “We’re going to be able to help some other people and it’s going to create jobs for us. It’s going to be a win-win situation.”
Walden, who is the city’s representative and liaison to the CSHLRA, said she never thought for one minute that dreams envisioned by Musso and others wouldn’t someday actually happen.
“This is real; it’s happening,” Walden said, noting that those who don’t believe simply need to come out and visit some of the sites on the campus of CSH now offering new jobs in the community. “Our new Georgia National Guard Youth Challenge Academy just opened up out here, too. So that’s over 500 jobs that have been created out here. And that’s what this community needed, and what they had been asking for. We’re trying to deliver.”
Richard Brookins, a member of the Milledgeville Planning & Zoning Commission and a 34-year retiree from Central State Hospital, echoed the sentiments of many others about it being a great day.
“It’s just a dream come true to me,” Brookins said. “I kept thinking that something like this happening. It’s just a God-send, because it’s so needed.”
Brookins praised the job and commitment of those who serve on the CSHLRA.
“I think they have done a fantastic job,” Brookins said. “There’s so much red-tape that people don’t know about or ever hear about with projects like this. There is so much involved.”
Brookins said what is now taking place on the campus of Central State Hospital is an aftermath following the closing of the state-operated facility after more than a century.
“It’s a new beginning now,” Brookins said.
Dr. Nolan Stephens, one of the members of the CSHLRA, said Tuesday’s grand opening of the Bostick Nursing Center was like a dream come true.
“This place is going to hire 330 employees – many of them CNAs,” Stephens said. “It’s going to put people to work and it’s a beautiful facility. It’s a state-of-the-art facility. It’s amazing to have seen this project come together over the last two years.”
Stephens truly believes that Central State Hospital is going to be further revitalized in the near future.
“It’s coming back,” Stephens said. “It’s great.”
David Vincent, owner and president of a company known as Vero Health Managerment, whose company has been contracted out by Dr. Musso and his company to manage the local operations of the new Bostick Nursing Center.
“It’s a very exciting time,” Vincent said. “We’ve been working on this project for about a year now with Dr. Musso and his team. It’s been a lot of hard work. It’s very nice to see the building is now completed as opposed to dirt and slabs of concrete. We kinda watched it (building) rise. Like I said, it’s a very, very exciting time.”
Vincent said part of the joy that he gets out of helping people in the healthcare profession is not only the passion for taking care of people, but helping to change lives, too, and giving people opportunities.
“That’s part of what I like to do as an employer,” Vincent said. “As a manager, it’s fun to be involved and get to know the folks here in Milledgeville and see the level of excitement they have for this project.”
An administrator, as well as a director of nursing will oversee day-to-day operations, he added.
“We’ll provide a lot of support and resources to the administrator as he runs this operation,” Vincent said.
Another person who has been instrumental in making the new nursing center a reality is Jill Stuckey, state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.
She said her role there was assist in the creation of new jobs, and to enhance economic development throughout the state of Georgia.
Bostick Nursing Center will provide 165 immediate jobs, Stuckey said.
Other job opportunities will become available as the nursing home grows.
“The indirect jobs are about three times the number of direct jobs,” Stuckey said.
She, too, described Tuesday as an exciting day.
“One of my goals as state director of U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development is to get Georgia unfair share of Washington (D.C.) dollars into the state and create jobs, and economic development,” Stuckey said. “This is a perfect project for doing just that. We’re leveraging $10 million of federal funds here in the form of a loan guarantee.”
The new Bostick Nursing Center is the first of its kind in Georgia.
Stuckey believes it won’t be the last one, though.
“I believe it’s the first of many to come,” Stuckey said. “What they are doing here is so needed. This kind of care helps the state and the future residents of this facility. It’s a win-win for everybody.”