Hospitals say psych beds were available before Deeds attempted murder-suicide

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by 13News now

WVEC.com

Posted on November 20, 2013 at 7:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 20 at 7:40 PM

CHAROTTLESVILLE -- New information is coming to light in the aftermath of an attempted murder-suicide, which left a prominent state senator in the hospital with stab wounds and his son dead.

State Senator Creigh Deeds was stabbed multiple times in the head and upper torso early Tuesday morning, apparently by his 24-year-old son Gus at the family's home Bath County.  State Police believe the father and son got into a fight and Gus stabbed his dad before shooting himself in the home.

On Monday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Dennis Cropper, the executive director of the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board, confirmed Gus Deeds had received an emergency mental health evaluation by a member of the CSB on Monday. According to the Times-Dispatch, Cooper said the younger Deeds was released because there were no psychiatric beds available at nearby hospitals.

State law requires patients either be released or sent to a receiving facility within four hours. A magistrate can extend that window to six hours.

On Wednesday, at least two nearby hospitals confirmed to 13News Now that they had psychiatric beds available on Monday, the day Gus was released.

Eric Swenson, University of Virginia Health System spokesperson, says his hospital did not receive a call from the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board on Monday between 12 p.m. and 7 p.m. Swenson said his hospital in Charlottesville did have psychiatric beds available.

The head of mental health for Sentara Hospitals, Dr. Frank Gallagher, says their hospital in Harrisonburg was not called either. Like UVA Medical Center, Dr. Gallagher said their facility had beds available.  The hospital is located about 70 miles away, which is considered within the area's hospital psychiatric network.

Gallagher explained that it can take up to eight hours to have someone come evaluate a psychiatric patient but says, "that is simply too long for a patient who is in this condition."

When 13News Now asked Cropper if employees at Rockbridge Area Comm. Services called Sentara hospital in Harrisonburg on behalf of any patients on Monday, he said he can't speak to the specifics of a case. 

"It is standard protocol for Emergency Services staff to call a number of private hospitals prior to contacting Western State hospital," Cropper stated.

Gallagher says those who work in the psychiatric community are saddened by the events. 

"I've been doing this for 30 years.  It's a failure for all of us," Gallagher said. 

Gallagher says more funding is needed to hire more service board evaluators immediately.

Gallagher says that Sentara Virginia Beach General is about to open 24 psychiatric beds in their new behavioral health unit at the end of the year.  He says the two other Sentara hospitals have a total of 42 beds and they could use 100 more.

Calls and emails to Rockbridge Area Community Services Board and its executive director, Dr. Dennis Cropper, seeking comment have gone unanswered Wednesday. However, they released a statement yesterday afternoon saying they could not comment on the particulars of the Deeds case.

 

 

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