Officials broke ground Friday for the Bostick Nursing Center, a new 280-bed geriatric care facility that will create 225 jobs in Baldwin County.
Many of the people housed there will be elderly and infirm former state prisoners, ones Georgia is presently paying to house and care for, who have no families or homes to return to upon release.
No date has been announced for when the facility will open, but officials said it could be built in about a year -- on once-public land that was part of the now-shuttered Central State Hospital.
Word of the nursing center, in the works for a couple of years, no doubt comes as welcome news to a county struck by the loss of some 9,000 jobs over the past decade, most of them state jobs.
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State Rep. Rusty Kidd of Milledgeville said the nursing facility, coupled with two state undertakings in the area, will create a total of more than 500 jobs.
He said a juvenile detention center will reopen in January with about 140 new employees. Kidd also noted a “boot-camp-type facility for youths who are about to drop out of school” that will open soon in a building at the former Central State site. That undertaking, in conjunction with Georgia Military College, will add 150 jobs.
As for the privately developed nursing home, along with former prisoners, it will also serve patients with limited access to skilled nursing and intermediate care services.
Jobs at the center include positions for nurses, doctors, food service and laundry workers, personal care assistants and maintenance posts.
“Georgia’s health care industry bolsters economic development while providing quality care to those in need,” Gov. Nathan Deal said at the gathering. “This new Bostick Nursing Center will bring much-needed jobs to the Milledgeville area, improve quality of life and set the foundation for further growth and revitalization of the Central State Hospital campus.”
The 16-acre nursing center, valued at more than $20 million, is being developed by CorrectHealth LLP, an Atlanta-based, physician-owned and operated company specializing in correctional health care, in partnership with the Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority.
This is the first private project at the former Central State Hospital campus, which consists of 200 buildings and more than 2,000 acres of land.
The redevelopment authority was created in 2012 by Georgia House Bill 815 with the specific mission of planning for and executing the redevelopment of the Central State Hospital campus in Milledgeville.
Kidd, I-Milledgeville, who sponsored legislation to privatize the land and create the authority, lauded the effort Friday as a chance to make use of vacant land.
“This is the first opportunity to take some of that state land and let a private entity purchase it. Therefore that land goes onto the tax digest now. ... That land hasn’t been taxed in 100 years,” Kidd said.
“We’ll see how it goes in taking elderly prisoners who have no place to go, give them early parole, put them in this nursing home and let the feds pay a portion of their care.”
Telegraph writer Joe Kovac Jr. contributed to this report.