UVA Eliminating Psych Beds

Chiara Canzi provides the alarming news in the current C-Ville Weekly that the university intends to eliminate half of its psychiatric beds from its total of forty, getting rid of eight next months and another twelve early next year. The PR director for the UVA Medical Center says that it won’t be a problem because “not all beds…are used,” but the folks I talked to who work for the facility tell me that’s absolutely not true. They’re basically the psychiatric equivalent of an emergency room, and one of very few available right now—folks are routinely brought down from upstate, where (a member of the General Assembly recently told me) there are generally no beds available. The state has a significant shortage of beds, and it’s becoming a problem. Obviously, we’re not talking about literal beds here, but rather the capacity to deal with an individual represented by it.

The result of this will not be good. This will leave people without care, instead winding up in jail (without the care that they need), on the streets, or with family who don’t know how to help them. Note that this coincides with the General Assembly passing a slew of new mental health laws in response to the Virginia Tech shooting, many of which will require more beds to deal with the more stringent standards. They’re stiffening the laws, but not providing the funding to actually follow through. That’s basically par for the course: legislators want to brag about how they’re tough on crime and cut taxes, but as we see here, the two are often in opposition.

52 thoughts on “UVA Eliminating Psych Beds”

  1. Oh yeah this was expected, we are going backwards in Mental Health despite the rhetoric. I assure you I know.

  2. Mental Health is the “Red Headed Stepchild” of the health care industry. We can’t see it, can’t touch it, we don’t want to understand, it much less pay for it, so we won’t.

    It’s also the one of the BIG reasons IMO for health care reform.

  3. Mental health is still thought of a personal weakness, lack of control, or malingering by many people and politicans. You would think after running for office they would know it was a disease. It’s not suprising in an economic down turn but it still saddens me.

  4. Truth be told, I think few people are willing to spend the kind of money required to fully address the issues at hand. Not sure it is even feasible. One of those thorny issues in which it is much harder to solve than actually talk about. Mental Health is one of hundreds of issues that we could spend untold billions on and just scratch the surfaced. Really, maybe a trillion a year could cover the research, medications, hospitalizing, half way houses, out patient aftercare, ongoing group counseling and home visits. Maybe.

    And when you start tossing in issues relative to crime and relevant narcism how do you even begin to resolve the issues with bars, or beds or what combination.

    Does anyone even have a basic solution to handling borderlines, or sexual issues that victimize so many people and are often viewed as not resolvable? IN 1990 something (hazy memory on these stats with NO links) like 20 billion was spent on Alcholism Treamtent centers. Makes those 2009 dollars with conmmensurate hospital increases we are taking….lots of $.

    Chances are high that Uva is tired of the cost of the psych beds, their lack of productivity and continual drain on funding while being a dumping ground for cities all over.

  5. Axis II is treatable in groups like DBT with support yes.
    We have come a long way in Mental Health Recovery but there needs to be more done along with substance abuse disorders. Addiction to R/X medications as well as crack, meth etc is much more rampant then people want to hear. No one wants to deal with it.

  6. Region Ten recently fired 11 employees and I hear they’re in big trouble on the verge of collapse.

  7. No easy solution but Jail does not work, neither does throwing money at the problem when people have to take a look at their own recovery. It takes empowerment, community involvement, money, lots of therapy and support. I find it sad that the state that had a mass murder, and public beheading at the same State University within a two year span does not make Mental Health a priority. That is embarrassing to be honest.

  8. TJ, Region 10 laid off 11 employees. They were not fired. To use the term “fired” implies some type of wrongdoing on the employee’s behalf. And that simply wasn’t the case.

  9. Region 10 workers have always been overworked and underpaid – R10 owns several valuable pieces of real estate in Ch’ville including an apt. building out 5th street where administrators work…

  10. Substance abuse isn’t really the kind of mental health issue I would like to see associated with mental health. To me it seems like it’s own sub-genre.

    …people have to take a look at their own recovery.

    I’m not trying to diminish your comment, but I don’t think you know how hard that can be to do when you are the person in the middle of the mental illness.

  11. TrvlnMN
    Oh no I know plenty but Recovery is possible and has to involve the consumer as well. I assure you gone are the days of “wards of the state” people can and do make changes, but yes it is hard.

  12. Whatever happened to Western State and Lynchburg Training School & Hospital? Shuttered? I’m an SOB full of BS in AA with ADD and ADHD in need of a COLA but I’m SOL as I MMOB ’cause nobody wants me. WTF, over?

  13. Why of course they still exist for the more severe, institutions that is. Mental Health has moved towards empowerment and normalization into ones community, integration etc. With cuts you will more likely see people that do a great job at taking charge with mental health supports going to jail, or state hospitals. Sad but true. Virginia still is not dedicated to anything but guns and low taxes.

  14. What’s wrong with being dedicated to guns? If every household was required to have a loaded shotgun and handgun within adult reach, these violent home invasions would stop. Criminals bank on citizens being unarmed when they attack them.
    Show me a candidate in favor of more gun control, and I will show you one vote he/she has lost right off the bat.

  15. Demo-This is off topic Guns that is. I actually grew up hunting, have training, and chose not to own a handgun. I own a few shotguns and that is all anyone needs for home invasion. No need to expand this argument further but I am a shotgun owner who feels the loopholes in VA and elsewhere are a problem. Seung-hui Cho, the recent Pitt PA Gym murder guy and TGSCOM internet gun dealer make the case for me. Powerful, and fearful thoughts come into peoples minds when they possess a gun, and some of those people cannot stop their impulses.
    Leave it at that. I prefer the Mental Health debate.

  16. I wonder if UVA had the beds for teaching purposes and has decided to change its program?

  17. Mr/Mrs/Miss We made this #1 you made us 17th, if guns are off topic, why did you introduce guns into the conversation? :)

    There’s only 5 ways I advocate the possession and actual use of guns… 1) self defense, 2) hunting, 3) sport, 4) collectors, and 5) war. If option 6 is some nut case who misuses and abuses the right to bear arms, the other 99.999% of the population should not be penalized.

  18. Demo lame argument there bro, so there should be no regs is that what you mean by punishment? I also know plenty of so called “normal folks” who with a gun in hand are NUT CASES as you call them. There has to be laws and permits sorry I disagree but I also own a gun.

  19. There’s already enough laws and permits in place to regulate the possession of firearms, carry of firearms, use of firearms and concealment of firearms. You can make 250 more new laws, and the same criminal who violates the current laws will violate the new laws.
    In order to prevent violent and illegal gun deaths, you have to ban possession of firearms by everybody. You’ll never see that happen in this country. Like I said, you can’t penalize 99.999% of the population just because a criminal does something stupid.
    And I agree, there’s plenty of “normal folks” carrying firearms that are indeed NUT CASES. You don’t want my opinion as to who a large portion of them are. Just think the “largest gang in America”.

  20. Not enough laws gunshow loopholes, assault weapons bans etc, but I digress. We shall see what happens with Mental Health and Region Ten in the next week after Kaine announces more cuts.

  21. What did the assault weapon ban accomplish? Not very much, because the lawmakers didn’t even know WTF they were dealing with. During the AWB, I couldn’t legally buy a semi-auto AR-15 made by Colt. But I could buy a full automatic M-16 made by Colt. Tell me how much sense that made please?. Furthermore, you could take an AK-47, put a “hunting stock” on it, and it’s no longer an AK-47 as banned by the AWB. The AWB was nothing more than a “feel good” law for the anti-gun nuts.
    There is no gun show loophole. A firearms dealer selling a firearm at a gun show has to run the Virginia State Police check, just as if he was standing in his gun shoppe selling it. An individual doesn’t have to run a check at a gun show, or on the front porch of his home. The fact that a sale takes place at a gun show changes none of the current rules and regulations in any way, shape or form.

  22. Demo are you fricken serious? Unlicensed sellers are allowed to sell firearms at Virginia gun shows without conducting background checks on purchasers and you like that? What about internet dealers like TGSCOM who sold a gun or accessories to three mass killers? You sound fearful and that is exactly why guns are deadly. If you know so much you know your more likely to use your gun on yourself than someone else. Why the hell do I waste my time with this. I own guns too and think people need to be responsible. I think the NRA is the biggest gang not who I imagine you think the biggest gang might be.

  23. Pennsylvania gym shooter George Sodini purchased two firearm accessories, a Glock magazine and a Glock magazine loader, in April 2008 from a TGSCOM, Inc. Please stop spreading the rumor they sold him a firearm.
    More likely to use my gun on myself? Yes! More anti-gun propoganda.

    I couldn’t care less who buys a gun at a gun show. I would rather a criminal go to a gun show and purchase a gun than to see them break into a home and steal it. Bottom line, a crininal is going to get a gun if they want one.

    Am I fearful? Yes. A recent report by the Department of Justice states that calls with reports of crimes of violence resulted in the following police response times.
    0 – 5 minutes = 26.4%
    6 – 10 minutes = 32.0%
    11 minutes – 1 hour = 29.7%
    The Suprme Court has ruled the popo have no obligation to protect you. You’re on your own until they get to your 911 call. The people that we entrust to protect us (the popo) realize the the importance of being able to protect themselves. Protect yourself, your family and your loved ones by learning how to defend yourself and teaching others how to do the same.

  24. Continuing on… Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five people at Northern Illinois University on February 14th, received two 9mm Glock magazines and a holster he ordered from the TGSCOM Inc. Big fuggin deal! TGSCOM is only one of 2,000 merchants he could have purchased the same items from.

    Cho Seung-Hui indeed used TGSCOM Web site http://www.thegunsource.com to purchase a Walther P22 firearm used in the Virginia Tech shootings last April. Again, big fuggin deal! TGSCOM is only one of 2,000 merchants he could have purchased the gun from. The weapon had to be shipped to a Virginia licensed gun dealer who in turn had to run the Virginia State Police check on him. When Seung-Hui purchased the gun, he was a law abiding citizen. He became a criminal with the first bullet who hit the first person. We have no control over this. And we can’t totally ban firearms just because one person misuses a firearm.

  25. Here’s the truth about gun control.


    Pay close attention to what took place in Kennesaw, Georgia when they passed a law that every household was required to have a firearm. And pay close attetion to the felons, they claim they fear armed citizens more than they do the popo

  26. How did we go from hospital bed coverage and mental health to gun arguements? Oh…another DemoSickRambowhateverelese hijack of the thread.

    Really, could you be more self absorbed?

    Because really, we need more wanna be Rambos and wanna be Ganstas with firearms. That will solve everything.

  27. Demo um I said “sold a gun or accessories” not guns! I think all of that is a BIG FUGGIN deal and I own a few shotguns to keep people out my house. I also grew up hunting and took courses. I bet you hunt with your SKS right :) Matter of fact I bet you never have hunted.
    I am not saying BAN them outright I am saying we need to to have some protection in place and your wrong there. We have protections in place and I do not see any issues with them, people with Mental Health psychiatric stays cannot legally possess, felons cannot legally possess etc. While that might not stop them from getting a gun it might stop a few of them. Let it go already. Look at the crime stats per capita since the 80’s they are down so do not be afraid just be smart. Please be safe with your guns as well and get gun locks.
    Now back to Mental Health. Demo do you want to harm yourself or others? I hope not.

  28. Danpri, I accept you apology. Can’t you keep up? It wasn’t me who brought guns into this discussion.

    I made us #1 you made us 17th, you are correct. I do not hunt. Have you ever seen Marisa Tomei’s hunting speech in the movie “My Cousin Vinny”? That’s exactly how I feel.
    quote – Marisa’s speech: “Imagine you’re a deer. You’re prancing along, you get thirsty, you spot a little brook, you put your little deer lips down to the cool clear water… BAM! A fuggin bullet rips off part of your head! Your brains are laying on the ground in little bloody pieces! Now I ask ya. Would you give a f**k what kind of pants the son of a bitch who shot you was wearing?”
    (Yeah, yeah, I know all about the food chain. Spare me that lesson please. I simply don’t kill innocent defenseless creatures)

    Do I want to harm myself or others? Not at the present time. I’m quite happy in my life. Moreso than I have ever been. But the reality is that ANY person in this country could snap at ANY time and do something stupid.

    And feel free to believe the published crime statistics if you like. It’s going to be interesting to see the crime statistics for Charlottesville and Albemarle County this year. This area has been ripped a new one with auto breakins, vandalism and theft. Let’s see if they show up in the statistics. I bet they don’t. It would be totally devastating for a chief to have to admit petty theft and breakins went up 25% in just one year. :)

  29. The local emergency rooms will likely suffer from UVA’s decision to eliminate beds. Psych patients will continue to come into the ER, either brought by the police, or seeking help for themselves, and when it is decided that they need to be admitted, they will remain in the ER, since there will be no bed for them upstairs, thus leaving fewer beds for people who are having heart attacks.

  30. Who me?, if the Emergency Room determines the person is a threat to themselves or others, and they need to be held for treatment, they will be held and transported to a state facility that has a bed available. Sheriff’s Offices provide the transportation. The patient doesn’t lay in a bed in an Emergency Room and deprive heart attacks patients of space or care. I transported these people for decades myself.

    Cville Eye, back in my day and time the hospital kept patients who had good insurance. The rest they usually shipped off to Western State or other state hospitals.

  31. if the Emergency Room determines the person is a threat to themselves or others, and they need to be held for treatment, they will be held and transported to a state facility that has a bed available.

    But that’s the problem—the state doesn’t have enough beds. You can only transport somebody to an available bed if there is one.

    Did Martha Jefferson have psych beds?

    Yes, although operated by UVA. That’s what’s being shut down.

  32. Western State is not an appropriate facility for absolutely everyone who needs to be admitted. From what I understand, the UVA beds were generally for short term stays of a day or two. Stays at Western State usually last weeks or months. Therefore, it is conceivable that some psych patients will be taking up ER beds–not to say that they are not as equally deserving of health care as anyone else.

  33. I am getting thoroughly confused. Why would a mental patient need to stay overnight in a hospital for a day or two and then go home?
    Where the patients local or were they brought here temporarily from somewhere else?

  34. Interesting, Waldo. Knowing what I know now since your latest remark… I wonder if MJH is getting ready for the onslaught this fall from the Swine Flu. I think they’re going to need every bed they can find. And more. The predictions of the spread of Swine Flu do not look good at the present time. Maybe MJH wants their space back? Mental illness doesn’t generally kill a patient, but the Swine Flu certainly will in a lot of cases.

    who me?, I just thought of something. It’s been my experience that mental patients at UVA are usually placed in a small conference type room with the UVA police standing by as security. They are interviewed and evaluated in these small conference type rooms. From there it is determined where the patient will go. When did the patients start occupying actual beds in the Emergency Room? The mental health professionsal can’t conduct much of an interview or evaluation with a patient laying down in a bed dozing off.

  35. Cville Eye, some patients just need their meds tweaked, or a few days to stabilize and can be discharged to outpatient therapy.

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  37. Waldo. Knowing what I know now since your latest remark… I wonder if MJH is getting ready for the onslaught this fall from the Swine Flu. I think they’re going to need every bed they can find. And more. The predictions of the spread of Swine Flu do not look good at the present time. Maybe MJH wants their space back? Mental illness doesn’t generally kill a patient, but the Swine Flu certainly will in a lot of cases.

    Probably not because, again, this isn’t a matter of literal beds, but the ability and resources to actually care for people. Beds are cheap. Mental health professionals are not particularly helpful when dealing with a flu epidemic. Also, swine influenza has a low mortality rate, basically the same as seasonal flu, so based on its current iteration, there’s no reason to expect that it will be especially problematic.

  38. It’s not just the beds we’re losing. We’re also losing mental health professionals. UVA closed its mental health counseling program 2 years ago, thereby reducing the number of people the state trains to work with the mentally ill. They typically had 10 interns working for free in local mental health agencies each year serving folks with mental illness. The training clinic for the program, which provided free counseling to anyone in need, is now operating on a skeleton staff with doctoral students and faculty trying to meet the increasing demand for services created by cutbacks at Region Ten and the rising number of uninsured. Where it used to have 10-12 counselors in training providing services, it now has 2-5 and it is also at risk of closing.

  39. “interns working for free”?????

    “counselors in training”????


    Why are these terms so disturbing when speaking of a person in dire need of mental help?

  40. I’m getting the impression that UVA’s involvement with the mentally ill was for training purposes. Perhaps the school is no longer providing this type of student training.

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