Access to Care
4:57 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Mental Health Services in the Spotlight

A community mental health organization is in the spotlight, after this week's attack on State Senator Creigh Deeds and the apparent suicide of his son. 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch said Gus Deeds had undergone a psychiatric evaluation Monday, but he was not admitted for in-patient care, because no hospitals in the area had psychiatric beds available.

But several facilities in the region report that they could have admitted Gus Deeds.

State law allows people to be held, against their will, for up to six hours if they pose a risk to themselves of others.  During that time, mental health professionals are supposed to assess and, if necessary, hospitalize them, but the executive director of Rockbridge Area Community Services told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that they were unable to find a psychiatric bed in the region for Senator Creigh Deeds’ son. 

Now , three medical centers no more than two hours’ drive from Deeds’ home claimed they had room, but they were not called.  Deborah Thompson speaks for RMH – a hospital in Harrisonburg.

“This past Monday night we did have availability of inpatient beds.  In fact we did admit several patients to the inpatient unit on Monday, however we did not speak with anyone from the Rockbridge CSB.”

UVA’s Medical Center and the new Western State Hospital in Staunton also claimed they had space. Rockbridge Area Community Services did not return our call, but other mental health professionals insist they spend hours trying to place patients, a point confirmed two years ago by Virginia’s Inspector General.