Monday, July 28, 2008

Daily Herald Story front page story on TRO

Patients ordered to leave mental facility

A temporary restraining order handed down Thursday by a Maury County judge requires Centerstone’s Rolling Fields facility to vacate by August 7.The mental health facility at 1000 Rolling Fields Circle has only been open for about three weeks, but Maury County Circuit Court Judge Robert Holloway ordered it to be shut down within 14 days pending a final hearing on the issue. The results of a future hearing could make the shutdown permanent, he wrote.The two-story facility houses up to eight mentally ill “consumers” that could suffer a wide range of illnesses, including dementia, depression or schizophrenia, according to a Centerstone representative. They recieve treatment for their condition in the form of medication and counseling sessions in an effort to reintegrate them into society.Holloway’s ruling came after testimony from Columbia police officers on their experiences investigating a number of incidents at the facility’s former location, Jackson Hall. In many cases, the consumers had made suicidal threats, according to the testimony.The judge wrote in the temporary injunction that the state statute protecting similar group homes did not apply to Centerstone’s facility because those staying there could not be classified as mentally handicapped.

“Mentally handicapped does not include persons who are mentally ill, and because of such mental illness pose a likelihood of serious harm,” Holloway wrote.

The restraining order was filed by Rolling Fields resident Mary “Marie” Voss, who lives next door to the facility. Her attorney Jason Whatley is also a resident of the neighborhood. He said the Thursday injunction was a victory for all in Rolling Fields, but it isn’t over.“We fully recognize that this fight isn’t over,” he said. “We’ll be gearing up for whatever comes next.”

Centerstone’s attorney J. Russell Parkes said he was dissapointed in the judge’s ruling. “We hope this ruling will not displace any of the handicapped invididuals,” he said.A date for the final hearing has not yet been set, but Parkes said he and his clients may file for an expedited appeal in the near future.

Story created Jul 25, 2008 - 13:40:31 EDT.

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