State announces new psychiatric bed registry
Virginia behavioral health and developmental services chair says system will aid efficiency
The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services announced the launch of a new online psychiatric bed registry Tuesday.
“According to a departmental press release, “This state-led effort strives to provide pre-screeners with accurate, detailed information for bed availability in Virginia’s public mental health hospitals, private hospitals and crisis stabilization units,” according to the press release.
The registry will aid in finding beds for emergency custody orders, rather than long-term stay. The behavior health department hopes the service will prevent incidents similar to what occurred last November when the son of State Sen. Creigh Deeds, Gus Deeds, killed himself after stabbing his father.
“The system failed my son,” Deeds said in a “60 Minutes” interview in January. Just prior to the incident, Gus Deeds was released from emergency custody because there were no psychiatric beds available.
John Pezzoli, acting commissioner of the behavioral services department, echoed Deeds’ concerns in a statement, saying, “time is of the essence” in these types of situations. He said he hopes the registry will maximize the availability of help for those experiencing mental health crises.
The Virginia Acute Psychiatric and Community Services Board Bed Registry will be updated “at least daily” by hospital staffs and will also feature data on the “precise needs” of a patient, including, but not limited to “age, facility type, location, level of security, [and] patient type,” according to the department’s press release.
Administrators will also be able to “monitor and evaluate bed usage and availability,” to maximize the efficiency of the registry, according to the press release. Pezzoli said the registry would also help streamline potential reforms.
“As changes are being made and examined, such as the General Assembly’s consideration of lengthening the period of emergency custody, this online bed registry is another important tool to help ensure that people who need mental health help get it precisely when they need it most,” he said.
All state-run hospital facilities and crisis units will be required to use the registry regularly. The press release also stipulated that the registry will not act as a booking system for patients by matching them with available beds.
“Clinicians will still need to take the additional step of contacting the hospital directly to ensure that the hospital is able to accept the specific individual,” according to the release.