Grady Health System will be the lead operator of the Center for Diversion and Services that the City of Atlanta and Fulton County plan to open later this year.
The Atlanta City Council approved legislation today to authorize Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens to contract with Grady to operate the center, which will provide pre-arrest diversion services for those experiencing homelessness, mental health challenges, substance use, and poverty.
The diversion center will be housed at the city jail – known as the Atlanta City Detention Center – in Downtown, where 700 beds are currently being leased to Fulton to alleviate overcrowding at the county jail. The diversion center will be operated separately from the jail.
“I am excited to start this New Year with significant forward progress to realizing our vision of the Diversion Center,” Dickens said in a statement. “The Diversion Center embodies our commitment to treat people with non-violent and quality of life transgressions who are experiencing poverty, homelessness or substance use as neighbors who need our help rather than as criminals who should be punished. Grady is a trusted partner to operate the Diversion Center because of their deep community roots and because they share our belief that our people are best served when we prioritize treatment and prevention.”
The diversion center will be designed to offer care options for individuals dropped off by law enforcement as an alternative to arrest for minor and non-violent offenses. Multiple providers will offer a variety of services including behavioral health screening and needs assessments; non-emergency medical care; sobering rooms; referrals and transportation to off-site treatment and service organizations; case management and basic legal navigation; warrant resolution; and food, laundry and showers.
“Grady is the natural partner to operate the Diversion Center, having spent decades building trust with the people of this community,” Fulton County Chairman Robb Pitts said in a statement. “The Diversion Center offers a new opportunity for Fulton County, the City of Atlanta and Grady to collaborate and serve together, as we have done for many years.”
The initial one-year agreement with Grady is slated to take effect this month and is extendable for up to four additional years. The agreement also envisions Grady expanding its work in the second year of the center’s operation to include health screening and assessment services, in addition to its role as overall operator of the diversion center.
“At Grady, we are committed to expanding healthcare access for the people of Atlanta, and we’re thankful to be partnering with Mayor Dickens, the Atlanta City Council, and Chairman Pitts and Fulton County to address the growing challenges impacting our community,” John Haupert, President and CEO of Grady, said in a statement. “The Diversion Center will allow us to provide these individuals with the quality care and resources necessary to improve their overall well-being.”