Bills to improve Virginia's mental health care laws move forward - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Bills to improve Virginia's mental health care laws move forward

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Saturday the Virginia General Assembly passed a series of measures to reform Virginia's mental health involuntary commitment laws.

House Bill 293, by Republican Delegate Rob Bell of Albemarle, states that when a special magistrate orders someone into care and a clinician cannot find an alternate bed, the person will be brought to the state mental hospital. The bill additionally requires the state hospital to admit him, unless an alternate, appropriate bed can be found in a private facility.    

"This is the ‘bed of last resort' bill. It means that if the judge finds that someone needs care, there will always be a bed for that person, somewhere," said Bell. "We wanted to make sure that what happened to Senator Deeds doesn't happen to any other families in Virginia.

The General Assembly also approved bills to lengthen the duration of the Emergency Custody Order from six to eight hours and to establish an online beds registry. Other measures would require additional training for clinicians and to increase flexibility for transfer between facilities

"These measures will make it easier for clinicians to find those private beds that are available," said Bell. "The Deeds' family tragedy demonstrates the need for these changes," said Delegate Rob Bell. "In November, a special magistrate ordered Senator Deeds' son into medical care, but a bed was never found, so he was released without receiving any care. This is called ‘streeting', and directly led to Gus' death. Studies have also identified this as a dangerous issue."

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