System task force working on enhancement of psychiatric services
Virginia Beach, VA (August 2012) – Sentara Healthcare will seek a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) for up to 24 Behavioral Health beds at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. A letter of intent has been filed with the Virginia Department of Health and a formal application will be filed at the end of August.
“There is a need for additional psychiatric beds across the region,” says Joanne Inman, vice president of Operation at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. “Psychiatric patients often spend many hours or even days in emergency departments waiting for inpatient beds,” she continues, “and this proposal seeks to help us address that.”
Under the proposal, Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital seeks to establish an inpatient behavioral health unit by converting more than 20 of its 276 licensed beds for geriatric and general adult psychiatric patients. The adult beds would include the capability to serve medical psychiatric patients. Geriatric beds are for elderly patients with behavioral issues related to dementia or long-standing mental illness. Medical psychiatric beds are for patients with psychiatric issues that require hospitalization, but whose medical issues make placement on open general adult psychiatric units inappropriate.
“This proposal is part of a Master Facilities Plan for Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital that focuses on community needs,” Inman says. “We recently established an inpatient oncology unit that has been very well received and inpatient behavioral health beds will enhance Sentara Virginia Beach General’s position as the city’s complex care hospital.”
Multidisciplinary task force working to enhance existing services
A task force including behavioral health team members from Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk, which have existing units, is working to enhance psychiatric services. One goal is to coordinate placement of psychiatric patients from Sentara emergency departments in the most appropriate inpatient beds among hospitals with psychiatric units, which will hopefully include Sentara Virginia Beach General. Other goals include enhancing provider staffing and integrating primary care and chronic disease management into a continuum of care for psychiatric patients, whose mental illness makes it difficult for them to manage co-existing conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.
“We’re taking a ‘whole person’ approach to behavioral health,” says Joanne Inman, who also chairs the system task force. “It’s a way to improve the quality of life for our patients and better utilize our resources.”
Based on a normal review schedule, a final decision by the Commissioner of Health could come in February, 2013.
Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital
Sentara Obici Hospital
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