Families Fear Loved Ones With Mental Illness Will Be Forced From Group Home

A group of families from the east tell WITN they got letters Christmas Eve stating their loved ones, who suffer from mental illness and live at a group home in Duplin County, could be kicked out at the end of January.

That is the fate facing 1,700 mentally ill residents across the state who may have to find a new place to live because of Medicaid changes.

At the Windham Hall Home for Adults in Kenansville, 41 residents received the letters.

Alphonso Dudley's brother has paranoid schizophrenia and has been at the facility for 17 years. Dudley says, "If he gets kicked out, we don't know what could happen."

Lynwood McCandless' son has both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They say if he isn't professionally monitored to take his medications, he becomes violent. Lynwood says, "There is no way he could function without medication. He would be dangerous to himself, possibly to the public, and I know because we've been through that before."

These families say they can't take care of their loved ones themselves, but changes in medicaid might force them to do just that. The government funded health care is making some big changes in their personal care services. People in group homes will need to show they need help with several basic functions to get money.

Officials at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services say these families can appeal, and their loved ones will be reassessed.

Last week Governor Bev Perdue moved a million dollars in the General Assembly's budget to allow these residents to stay in group homes through the month of January. Perdue says this extra money gives incoming Governor Pat McCrory and the Republican led General Assembly time to figure out a longer-term fix.