Ten new psychiatric beds will soon be available to patients at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk.

New psychiatric beds approved for Sentara Obici Hospital

Sentara Obici Hospital

Ten new psychiatric beds will soon be available to patients at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk following approval of a Certificate of Public Need (COPN) by the Virginia Department of Health. The hospital sought the new beds to meet growing demand for care in its Western Tidewater service area.

"People are speaking out about depression and psychiatric illness," said Phyllis Stoneburner, RN, vice president of patient care services at Sentara Obici Hospital. "We’re more cognizant of the importance of being treated and supported in this illness."

Psychiatric services were the number 1 priority identified in a community needs assessment the hospital performed three years ago. The 10 existing beds at the hospital are often full.

"There is broad support for the proposed project from area community services boards and law enforcement," wrote Virginia Health Commissioner Marissa Levine, M.D., in a letter of approval. "The department of COPN has not received any letters of opposition and no organization or individual spoke in opposition at the public hearing," Levine added. "The applicant has substantiated a need to meet existing and projected demand … The project appears economically viable in the immediate and long term."

The $61,000 project will convert 10 private patient rooms to semi-private rooms over a period of months. Stoneburner predicts the new arrangements will be well-received by patients, but the go-slow approach allows the clinical team time to work out any 'wrinkles' as bed capacity expands.

Sentara Healthcare operates three inpatient psychiatric facilities in Hampton Roads, including Sentara Norfolk General and Sentara Virginia Beach General hospitals. A task force has been working to improve and coordinate psychiatric services across all 12 Sentara hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina.