Based on his review of the tragedy involving state Sen. Creigh Deeds' family in Bath County, the Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Services, William Hazel made these recommendations to the governor for improving Virginia's mental health system:
Civil Commitment Process
- Amend Virginia Code § 37.2-808 to clarify responsibility for notifying the community services board (CSB) 1) when an ECO (emergency custody order) has been issued by the magistrate, 2) when the ECO has been executed by law enforcement and 3) of the location to which the individual has been taken for the preadmission screening assessment.
- Clarify through education of CSBs and willing hospitals that preadmission screening can be carried out electronically pursuant to § 37.2-809(B) and provide funding to assure that all CSBs have adequate and appropriate equipment to perform electronic screenings.
- Amend Virginia Code § 37.2-808(G) and (J) to provide an option for further extending the ECO period beyond six hours when the CSB clinician has determined that the individual meets the criteria for a TDO and additional time is needed to locate an available bed at a willing facility.
- Consider removing the requirement that the facility of temporary detention be specified on the Temporary Detention Order (TDO).
- Conduct a study to assess the need statewide for secure assessment sites and establish these sites in communities across the state as indicated by the study.
Facility of Temporary Detention
- Complete the implementation of the electronic psychiatric bed registry that is currently under development. Develop guidelines with the involvement of the CSBs and private hospitals to help assure that the database is maintained to reflect real time accuracy of available beds.
- Explore other technological capacities such as video conferencing and electronic exchanges of information that may improve the processes of finding and documenting resource availability in crises.
- Complete and implement revised guidelines for medical screening for use by private and state psychiatric hospitals and emergency departments.