Admissions at mental health facilities have spiked following the high profile suicide of a state senator's son.
Mental health and state officials told the Governor's Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response on Thursday that they did not know how long the surge would last.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Western State Hospital in Staunton had admitted 23 people under temporary detention orders since Jan. 1, up from six admissions in the previous six months.
Gus Deeds attacked his father, Sen. Creigh Deeds, last November at their Bath County homestead hours after being released from custody because no psychiatric bed could be found in the time allotted by state law. Gus Deeds killed himself following the attack.
The General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year attempting to address some of the problems highlighted by the Deeds case. One new law, which won't go into effect until July 1, requires state hospitals to admit people for temporary detention if no beds can be found after eight hours.
Besides state hospitals, private hospitals have also seen an increase in emergency psychiatric admissions.
"Private providers also are seeing increased demand for inpatient beds,'' said Betty Long, vice president of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, She said the increase was due, at least in part, to the Deeds family tragedy.
"Intuitively, the feeling is yes, some piece of this is the result of people being more cautious now'' in seeking emergency psychiatric care, Long said.
The increased demand is putting pressure on state institutions that have attempted to downsize by shifting patients into communities for treatment.
The Commonwealth Center's 48 beds have been almost always full recently. The center is the only state hospital for children and adolescents.