Grady revamps outpatient mental health services

Grady Health System said Tuesday that it is consolidating its outpatient mental health programs to help meet growing service needs in metro Atlanta.

Grady is combining three outpatient behavioral health offices into a larger location at 10 Park Place, near MARTA’s Five Points Station hub.

The move will improve access to services and will provide space to assist more patients, Grady said in a news release.

The 125 behavioral health staff members working in the three outpatient centers will be relocated to the new location.

“The demand for mental health assistance is growing dramatically, and our goal is to make our services as accessible as possible to residents of metropolitan Atlanta,” said Michael Claeys, executive director of Behavioral Health Services at Grady. “This move to larger, more centrally located, dedicated space will expand our capacity so that we can accommodate the demand.”

One of the three outpatient clinics is the Auburn Avenue Recovery Center. Georgia Health News reported in December that the Auburn Avenue clinic had problems with an often malfunctioning system for air conditioning and heating.

Grady leased the space for the adult mental health clinic, located in the historic “Sweet Auburn’’ district, famous as a hub of African-American business and cultural life. The clinic was housed in the Odd Fellows Building, built 100 years ago by the Atlanta Chapter of the Grand Order of Odd Fellows.

‘‘We are currently exploring a long-term solution for the problems,’’ Grady said in a statement to GHN in December.

In other health care news Tuesday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation that aims to restore ‘‘child-only’’ insurance policies to the Georgia market.

The law addresses an unintended consequence of the 2010 health care law, when sales of ‘‘child-only’’ insurance policies were halted in Georgia and other states.

The Affordable Care Act required insurance policies to accept kids with pre-existing health conditions. Insurers in Georgia then decided to stop offering new individual policies covering children only, saying the change had made such policies unprofitable.

These policies are usually bought by parents who have an employer policy that doesn’t offer dependent coverage, or whose dependent coverage is too expensive.

Sometimes they’re bought by parents who can’t purchase coverage for themselves due to cost or a health condition, and who want to cover their children.

The law requires insurers that sell individual health policies in Georgia to also offer child-only plans during an open enrollment period.

The lead sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Alex Atwood (R-Brunswick), commended Deal for his support.

“We now have a voluntary, low-cost insurance option available to hard-working Georgians that will allow them to protect their children,’’ Atwood said in a statement. “I also want to thank our team of doctors, Voices for Georgia’s Children, Georgians for a Healthy Future and the American Diabetes Association, who helped me push this legislation through.’’

Atwood also thanked law students at Georgia State University who helped draft the bill. The legislation included language that addressed the concerns of insurers. “It was truly a team approach that worked,” he said.