Old Baldwin prison sold to health care company

mlee@macon.comOctober 10, 2013 

ATLANTA -- A corrections health care company has bought the shuttered Bostick State Prison in Hardwick for $50,000, while the team in charge of the moribund Central State Hospital campus starts work on a campaign to speed new landlords onto their 1,900 total acres.

CorrectHealth GDC, the sole bidder on Bostick, has received Department of Community Health approval to set up a $6.9 million, 280-bed skilled nursing facility at the site.

But it’s not clear if a secure nursing home is what CorrectHealth will do with the 700-bed prison near Milledgeville, shuttered since 2010.

The company did not return multiple calls for comment. Several separate CorrectHealth legal entities are all registered at the same north Atlanta office suite. They provide health care in 37 lockups across several states, including the Bibb County jail.

Georgia once looked at renovating Bostick as a prison nursing home, and in 2012, Gov. Nathan Deal proposed spending $6 million on the job.

But “the original contract to use Bostick as a skilled nursing facility was determined to be unsustainable and unnecessary, and there are no plans at this time for any development of this facility for medical use for inmate care,” said Lisa Rodriguez-Presley, a state Department of Corrections spokesperson, via email.

Augusta State Medical Prison will continue as the central facility for providing medical and mental health services for inmates, she said.

The sale price “is a little bit below appraised value, but the state does spend approximately $13,000 per year to insure and maintain this facility,” said Frank Smith, deputy executive director of the State Properties Commission, during a meeting of his board Thursday. The board’s approval completed the months-long legal procedure to sell public property.

“The worst enemy we’ve got now is the process to get property out of state hands” and onto the market, said Mike Couch, executive director of the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority. They’re in charge of finding new uses for the scores of buildings left vacant as the hospital campus closes down.

The CSH Authority wants a legislative vote this winter to approve the whole campus for disposal, as well as tweaks to state rules on property sales. They pitched Deal on the plan this week.

By Couch’s math, Milledgeville has not yet hit the lowest point of this economic downturn. In the next 15 months, he expects 1,000 more job losses in the area, partly tied to Central State and the closure of Georgia Power’s Plant Branch.

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