VHC Health plans Arlington mental health facility with 112 beds


VHC Health will construct a new Arlington mental health and rehabilitation facility, hospital executives announced Tuesday. This is in response to the growing demand for inpatient care and the shortage of beds in Northern Virginia.

The $80 million facility would have five outpatient behavioral programs, at least 112 beds, and be located near Glencarlyn. It is subject to approval by the state and county.

“We are really enthusiastic about the options that this is going to bring forward in the community to address the shortage of mental health beds in particular,” Arlington County Board member Katie Cristol (D) said in a joint interview Tuesday with hospital officials announcing the news.

Virginia Governor. Glenn Youngkin (R) has proposed expanding investment in the state’s strained behavioral health system, which serves as a public safety net for people in need of care.

Overcrowded and underfunded state-run mental hospitals have been struggled to keep upDue to rising demand, people may be court-ordered inpatient treatment. This can leave them waiting in emergency rooms while they wait for a bed.

Youngkin wants to transform Va.’s struggling behavioral health system

Challenges have been particularly acute for Virginia’s youth as need for services has outstripped capacity. Virginia ranked 48th in the nationAccording to data from Mental Health America, the number of youth with mental disorders in 2022 will be 21st, a drop from 21st in the previous year.

Melody Dickerson stated that VHC Health doesn’t currently offer inpatient behavioral healthcare services in the county. It chief nursing officer. And with need increasing, the health system’s current 20-bed inpatient rehab unit is between 90 and 100 percent full on any given day.

VHC Health, a private non-profit formerly known under the name Virginia Hospital Center, will build the new facility at the 610 S. Carlin Springs Rd. site of an annex which housed an urgent-care centre and a pediatric site. The hospital system was previously known as Virginia Hospital Center. exchangedAs part of a land-swap agreement, the county will share the 11.57-acre parcel with it. This deal is to help the university expand its campus in North Arlington. VHC Health will receive approximately half of the property.

County leaders and civic groups had long debated the future use of this property. Now, it is being demolished. The property was originally intended for use as a school bus depot and public bus depot. However, none of those uses were approved by the county legislatures.

Cristol expressed hope that the remaining land will be used as natural or green space. VHC will split the cost of building an underground garage for both uses.

Mark Schwartz, County Manager, stated that VHC will also take on the cost of demolishing existing buildings.

VHC Health has 71 mental health beds in its existing facilities. The hospital will open the new site and use the existing space to create a 14-bed unit for geriatric mental healthcare.

Behavioral health-care providers in Virginia and across the country have been struggling to recruit and retain staff — a problem Dickerson said has been less acute at VHC Health. Julia Ferrier spokeswoman for health system and said that turnover fell by 7.3% from 2021-2022.

A psychiatry wait list had 880 patients; a hospital couldn’t keep up

All types of insurance are accepted in the VHC Health facility. Outpatient programs and community-based care are designed to keep people from falling into a crisis that could lead to hospitalization or imprisonment.

“When you think about the continuum of care today, VHC is really centered on that acute episode,” Dickerson said. “What this programming does for us is it really takes on that entire continuum, from your baseline therapy to intensive therapy to a partial hospitalization program.”

Youngkin’s proposed $230 million plan also would invest in pathways designed to keep people out of institutions. Youngkin’s goals include funding intake centers, hiring 30 mobile crisis workers, expanding mental health programs at schools, and providing in-home services for 500 people waiting to be eligible for Medicaid waivers.

This approach was created to relieve the pressure on already overburdened public service and fill in any care gaps.

The state’s 40 community services boards, which provide publicly funded behavioral health services, face staffing shortages and an overwhelming demand for care, a 2022 study by Virginia’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission found. Ten percent of patients in state psychiatric hospitals were still in the facility for an average period of 79 days, presumably because they were waiting for community service boards to complete certain tasks.

Cristol said Arlington’s community services board had been working closely with VHC leaders on the details of expansion plans.

Jenna Portnoy contributed.

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