VIRGINIA’S MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM
We specialize in Medical Malpractice and Nursing Home abuse – so why would I write about Mental Health in Virginia? I write about it because it is system in great need of reform, and one that affects so many aspects of healthcare.
Check out today’s Washington Post, Shortage of Beds And Psychiatrists Plagues Much of Va.
Reimbursement Cited as Problem, Too
Chris L. Jenkins writes that “Virginia lacks experienced psychiatrists to evaluate the mentally ill, there aren’t enough beds for those seeking emergency treatment in many areas and hospitals are losing money on mentally ill patients, according to a state government report.”
He goes on to cite the 230-page report released this week by the General Assembly’s, prepared by the Joint Legislative Audit Review Commission, “states that 47 of Virginia’s 135 localities do not have public psychiatrists and that 87 do not have public child psychiatrists. In addition, half of the state’s psychiatrists are in seven Virginia localities, according to the report, and one in five are in Fairfax County, Fairfax City and Falls Church. “
So what happens to those in need of treatment that don’t get it? Many end up in long term care facilities- yes, nursing homes, in rooms next door to your loved ones needing rehab or skilled care. It is not that I am afraid of mental illness, I have personal and professional experience with Virginia’s system…. but I am confident a different level of care is required for someone suffering from dilusions relating to dementia, than someone who suffers from dilusions and schizofrenia.
The study also found “that on a single day in 2005, 60 percent of the 6,350 mentally ill people were in state hospitals or were in jails.” It also affects our emergency care system – as Emergency rooms are usually the first stop for someone “in danger to themselves or others.”
Bottom line – STATE needs to do something about it, and soon.