Proposed Amendment to Save Catawba Hospital

Jan 14, 2016

A line in this year’s Virginia state budget calls for the shuttering of two psychiatric hospitals in southwestern Virginia.  But some are calling for them to remain open at a time when recent events have spotlighted the urgent need for more mental health services, not fewer.

Governor Terry McAuliffe’s budget proposal would provide $1 million to cover the costs of shutting down two psychiatric hospitals in southern Virginia.  The plan raised an outcry at a time when it’s becoming clear that there’s already a lack of sufficient beds for people in psychological crises in the state.

Catawba Hospital in Roanoke County.

“It’s a really strange juxtaposition to be in, because a big push in the legislature, myself included is to ensure that we have, the beds and availability of bed in place so that when an individual is in crisis, they’re not waiting in an emergency room or they can’t find a bed so they don’t get the help that they need.”  

Delegate Joseph Yost, a republican from Pearisburg is introducing a budget amendment to cut the proposed funding to close Catawba and replace the 110-bed inpatient facility with community based care.

“I love community based service, but we also have to understand in society that an adequate mental health system is not either hospital or community services. It has to be both and Catawba represents that in our community as our community based mental hospital.”

Observers point out that Catawba seen a 40% increase in admissions last year and that it has been cited as one of the most efficient and well performing facilities in the state. A recent report by Virginia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services said the Catawba psychiatric hospital in Roanoke County and Piedmont in Southside Virginia – the two oldest in the state system -- would need almost $100 million in renovations to stay open.