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Riverside Health System Continues Investment in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

January 30, 2020

Newport News, Va. - At a time when demand for mental health and substance abuse services are rising, Riverside continues to invest in community-based care connected to behavioral health, the modernization of the physical environment for the safety of patients, and improved patient-to-staff ratios that promote even greater personal attention, health system leadership announced this week.

Specifically, the health system re-opened its adolescent unit at Riverside Behavioral Health Center and has removed unit caps with increased staffing in order to treat as many patients as possible.

These investments, as well as championing efforts to help patients gain quicker access to treatment, support the ability for clinical teams to care for patients and their families.

The Riverside Behavioral Health Center is located is Hampton, Virginia on Executive Drive and features, among other services, crisis intervention programs, intensive treatment programs, inpatient detoxification services, adolescent acute services and adolescent residential treatment programs.

Riverside’s announcement of its continued investment in behavioral health programs comes during the 2020 Virginia General Assembly session and while the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) and members, including Riverside, have joined forces to reiterate the priorities and perspectives of the private hospital community with respect to new behavioral health bills.

“Despite our collective advances, more can and should be done to improve treatment for patients at a time when demand for mental health and substance abuse services are rising and patient needs are more complex,” the VHHA said in a recent editorial. “Achieving that shared goal while managing finite resources requires collaboration among stakeholders, policymakers and clinicians. It also necessitates innovation.”

Hospitals, according to the VHHA, have worked with diverse stakeholders to create the Medical Assessment and Screening Guidelines, a landmark set of protocols to standardize and limit, as appropriate, medical tests required to assess the condition of patients experiencing a psychiatric crisis. Hospitals are also engaged in supporting Governor Ralph Northam’s Virginia Identify, Screen, and Refer Pilot Program to help prevent suicide and close gaps in access to care for service members, veterans, and their families.

Virginia hospitals, the VHHA said, support the proposed state study of the temporary detention order (TDO) evaluation and involuntary commitment process with a goal to expand the roster of behavioral health professionals who are authorized to conduct TDO evaluations and participate in the involuntary commitment process. Currently, only Community Services Board staff members are allowed to perform such evaluation, creating delays and inefficiencies for patients in crisis who need timely treatment.

Another proposed state study seeks to improve the current process for approving residential psychiatric placements, particularly for children and adolescents, which now can be delayed 30-90 days in some cases.