Virginia Is Overpaying for State Hospital Beds!

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NOTE:  The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) maintains an ongoing list of individuals in state psychiatric hospitals who are clinically ready to return home but cannot leave the hospital due to “extraordinary barriers” to discharge. dLCV is committed to keeping you informed about the status of the “Extraordinary Barriers to Discharge” list (EBL), as the existence of this list is an ongoing violation of these individuals’ legal and Constitutional rights to community-based care.

DBHDS reports that as of November 30, 2020, 197 individuals were on the Extraordinary Barriers to Discharge List (EBL).  Some of these individuals have been waiting, needlessly, for months or even years to return home.

CEBL SPOTLIGHT:  Catawba Hospital and the Case of the “Additional” Beds

At the end of November, 16 individuals on the EBL were residents of Catawba Hospital, a state psychiatric facility near Roanoke. These individuals had been waiting for discharge for an average of 116 days, with one individual alone waiting 557 days. In 2019, DBHDS began allocating additional funds to expand the number of beds at Catawba Hospital, and the Governor has requested $5 million in his introduced FY 2021 budget for this purpose “until such time as the additional beds are no longer needed.”  Given Catawba’s EBL data, dLCV argues that many of these beds are not truly needed. At an average daily cost of about $800, Catawba residents on the EBL incurred nearly $1.5 million in avoidable hospitalization costs because they were not discharged when they were clinically ready to return home.  As a result, these 16 residents’ wait for discharge consumed 30 percent of the Governor’s requested $5 million for additional beds.  Why is the Commonwealth “doubling down” on state hospital bed costs when community-based services are less costly and more effective over the long term?

State hospital treatment is the most expensive level of care in our mental health system.  Instead of supporting the cost of inpatient beds that already exist, this $5,000,000 requested by the Governor could fund a year of permanent supportive housing for over 330 people.  This would completely eliminate the current EBL, and provide housing for an additional 133 people in need.

“A state psychiatric hospital is NOT a home. The Commonwealth must do better on behalf of our fellow citizens!”