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Vice President of Behavioral Health Services Starts Work 

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Sentara task force working with providers, advocates to meet the need

J. Frank Gallagher, III starts work with behavioral health in Virginia BeachVirginia Beach, VA (July 2013) – J. Frank Gallagher, III, a 26-year veteran of inpatient psychiatric services, is the newly-appointed vice president of behavioral health services for Norfolk, Virginia-based Sentara Healthcare.

Gallagher joins Sentara after five years as CEO of Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center, a 100-bed acute care psychiatric hospital. He was previously CEO of The Pines Residential Treatment Center campuses in Norfolk and Portsmouth and Poplar Springs Hospital, a 168-bed facility in Petersburg, Va. With Sentara, Gallagher will work closely with the system’s Behavioral Health Task Force, which includes representatives from Sentara hospitals, Optima Health, Sentara Medical Group, community services boards and advocacy groups.

“Sentara is embarking on an exciting enhancement of behavioral health services,” Gallagher says. “My charge from leadership is to help develop a behavioral health program as excellent as Sentara’s other medical services.

“Behavioral health can be a fragmented system,” Gallagher continues. “We are working with patients and their families, community services boards and other providers to shape new services that truly meet the need.”

“Our task force grew out of the desire to better serve our patients,” says Joanne Inman, vice president of operations at Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital and chairperson of the system’s Behavioral Health Task Force. “Hospital ERs and inpatient medical units sometimes have to hold psychiatric patients for days waiting for inpatient psychiatric beds to open up,” Inman continues. “This is hard on patients and clinical staff and we want to improve that experience,” Inman adds. “But we also want to treat the whole person and better manage mental health needs alongside medical conditions,” she shares, “and our partners with Sentara Medical Group, Optima Health and Sentara Life Care can help us improve the overall health of our psychiatric patients.”

Service plans focused on community need

Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital is developing a 24-bed inpatient psychiatric unit focused on the complex psychiatric and medical needs of geriatric and adult patients. It is scheduled to open before the end of 2013. Sentara also has existing inpatient services at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital and Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk. Sentara RMH Medical Center in Harrisonburg has an inpatient unit and an outpatient day program that may serve as a model elsewhere.

“Frank Gallagher brings a quarter-century of experience to this endeavor,” says E. Bernard Boone, III, president of Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. “I am confident that his leadership and outreach will bring all the stakeholders in behavioral health together to meet our patients’ needs.”

“It’s exciting to join a healthcare system that is enhancing behavioral health services,” Frank Gallagher adds.  “It tells me Sentara is acting on its mission to improve health every day.”

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