Report criticizes voided mental health contract

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A legislative watchdog committee is questioning how the Department of Mental Health handled a contract to move people from its community care unit at the Mississippi State Hospital in Whitfield.

The Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, in a report released Friday, criticized the department's $45,000 contract with Guided Steps to move 120 patients out of the Community Services Division. The contract was annulled in the middle of the PEER review after committee investigators found that Guided Steps' director didn't have correct educational qualifications.

PEER, though, is raising wider questions about the Department of Mental Health's operations, asking why the department was cutting a community care unit to shift money to the inpatient hospital at a time when Mississippi is under federal pressure to do the reverse.

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