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Virginia’s Private Hospitals Address Growing Psychiatric Needs

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Private hospital leaders announced recommendations Thursday to help alleviate the census at state-run psychiatric hospitals.

A group of private hospital providers with the Virginia Healthcare and Hospital Association announced new efforts to help alleviate overburdened state psychiatric facilities across the state Thursday. Involuntary admissions to state hospitals have been on the rise in recent years, while voluntary admissions to private facilities have also increased.

The private providers released a series of recommendations that have been in the works for the past several months and include addressing workforce shortage issues and improving utilization of crisis stabilization units and detox beds.

According to Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health, 15- 40% of people in state psychiatric hospitals have a substance use disorder and a mental illness. A spokesperson said the numbers vary across regions. Some who end up in state facilities only have a substance use disorder, and end up being discharged in a matter of days.

“They don't need to go to a state hospital for that [just substance use disorder],” said Lisa Castro with Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg. “We are looking to try to help divert those patients into our systems where we can get them to the right type of substance abuse treatment.”

Castro says Southampton Memorial Hospital in Franklin has 10 detox beds she’s working with the state to make sure are always full. She’s also working on another project to better serve people with both mental illness and intellectual or developmental disability.

“This program would be the first of its kind in the state and would look to divert somewhere around 80 admissions from our nearby Central State Hospital,” Castro said.

Another recommendation the group had: establish a compensation package for Medicaid-eligible people to participate in partial hospitalization.

“That would basically allow somebody to step down from a hospital and stay in a program from four to six hours a day that would allow them to continue to be monitored on their road to recovery,” said Jim Newton with Bon Secours.

Private providers across the state also plan to add about 160 beds between fall 2018 and mid-2022.

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Megan Pauly reports on early childhood and higher education news in Virginia
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