- Associated Press - Friday, January 20, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi lawmakers could approve development of a residential rehabilitation center for people recovering from brain injuries.

To receive such care now, patients are being sent to Atlanta and other places out of state.

Lee Jenkins, executive director of the Mississippi Brain Injury Association, told The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thec-l.com/2jI4rRQ ) that the organization has been working for years to get such a center in the state.

“The main thing is to provide better care for those with brain injuries and for them to be able to stay in the state,” Jenkins said. “This is a major thing for us. It will help a lot of people.”

House Bill 478 says a post-acute residential facility for brain injury rehabilitation would have to be at least 25 miles from the nearest acute care rehabilitation hospital and at least five miles from any city with 10,000 or more residents. The residential center could not receive Medicaid payments.

“It would be a home for those with brain injuries to get them back into society,” said Rep. Joey Hood, R-Ackerman, told his colleagues Thursday during a brief discussion in the House.

The bill passed the House 116-0 and moves to the Senate for more work.

Jenkins estimated that between 6,000 and 7,000 people in Mississippi are known to have some type brain injury. She said many concussions from sports, falls or other events go unreported.

Jenkins said the organization currently recommends to relatives of someone with a brain injury to take the person to a facility out of state. Most are referred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta, she said.

If a center is built in Mississippi, it would allow families to be closer to a brain injury victim while the person undergoes rehabilitation, Jenkins said.

Jenkins said falls have overtaken motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of brain injuries, speculating the reason may be because of aging baby boomers.

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Online: House Bill 478: http://bit.ly/2jxKB9r

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