Five of Virginia’s eight state-run mental health hospitals remain closed to civil temporary detention order (TDO) admissions due to dangerously low staffing levels. That’s increasing pressure on other pieces of Virginia’s mental health care system. On Tuesday, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police (VACP) led a press conference where speakers called for the General Assembly to use American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds and long-term budget increases to help address the crisis.
“The mental health system in Virginia is clearly broken. We’ve seen the slow degradation of available resources in the state over time, and what we have also seen is the need for mental health resources has continued to grow,” VACP President Herndon Police Chief Maggie DeBoard said.
Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Alison Land asked for about $216 million in American Recovery Plan Act funds in a presentation to legislators. Her number-one ask was $75 million to increase salaries to retain and attract staff to Virginia’s troubled mental health facilities.
A week ago, Land closed admissions at five of the state’s eight mental health facilities. On Thursday, she told the Joint Subcommittee to Study Mental Health Services in the 21st Century those closures were necessary to help reduce the number of patients at dangerously understaffed facilities.
Five of Virginia’s eight state-owned adult mental health hospitals will be closed to new admissions temporarily, due to staff shortages. On Friday, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Allison Land sent a letter announcing the shortages, citing 1,547 direct patient support staff vacancies out of about 5,500 state staff, with 108 resignations occurring in the past two weeks. Contract staff are also leaving, due to “unrelenting stress, required overtime,” and a “dangerous environment.”
Virginia’s eight state-run mental health hospitals are operating at near-peak capacity, while operating at just 60 to 75 percent staffing levels, according to a presentation Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Alison Land gave legislators on Tuesday.
“We’ve been working on this issue for years and years before I came, and the picture just keeps looking bleaker, and not better, I have to say,” Land said.
State health facilities operated by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) were tipped off with advance knowledge on unannounced COVID-19 protocol inspections, according to a report from the Office of the State Inspector General (OSIG) released last Thursday.
The report claimed that DBHDS personnel shared detailed information regarding inspections with as many as 11 facilities throughout the Commonwealth.