State report recommends closing youth psychiatric hospitals

Citing ongoing operational and performance issues, a state legislative study in Richmond recommends closing the Commonwealth Children and Adolescent Center in Staunton and possibly reassigning its staff to nearby Western State Hospital.

Virginia is one of the few states with facilities dedicated to treating children and adolescents, and CCCA is the smallest of all nine public psychiatric hospitals. It also appears to be causing the biggest headaches for the state Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, according to a report released Monday afternoon by the staff of the Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee.

The report said CCCA “is one of the poorest or lowest performing hospitals compared to other public hospitals. It has the highest rates of:

  • patient-to-patient and patient-to-staff physical safety incidents;
  • patients self-harm;
  • substantiated human rights complaints; and
  • Physically restrain the patient.

The report found that CCCA had some of the highest staff vacancy rates and the greatest reliance on expensive contract workers.

CCCA restricts a higher proportion of patients than any other public hospital and is more than 20 times higher than the reported national average, the report said. Patients at CCCA are also restrained for longer periods of time than at other hospitals.

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