ABC 13 Confirms Psychiatric Beds Were Available Near Deeds' Home

AP Photo

Charlottesville, VA - UVA Medical Center in Charlottesville and Rockingham Memorial Hospital both confirm to ABC 13 they had space in their psychiatric units Monday evening, but neither hospital was contacted by the Rockbridge Community Services Board, the agency working to place Gus Deeds.

Mental health workers in Lynchburg tell ABC 13 they typically have no trouble finding a bed somewhere.

The Richmond Times Dispatch reported that Gus Deeds received a mental health evaluation on Monday, a day before police say he stabbed his father, Senator Creigh Deeds, but an official told the paper Gus was released when an available psychiatric bed could not be located in Western Virginia.

Say, for example, that it's 5 p.m. and an emergency custody order, or ECO has just been issued.

Emergency clinicians, with the help of law enforcement, have four hours under Virginia law, before they'll have to let their patient go.

"You're taking away someone's civil liberties and making a determination that they need to be evaluated for a duration of time," said Heather Keyes, the Program Manager for Crisis Services at Horizon Behavioral Health.

Keyes has spent many an hour sitting in an ER beside a patient brought in involuntarily by law enforcement.

"We have to do what we consider to be a bed search. We have to call the psychiatric facilities and see if they have an open bed and if they're willing to take the patient," Keyes said.

Three and a half hours later, It's now 8:30 p.m., and let's say, for example, the emergency team still hasn't found a bed at any area facility: Virginia Baptist, Roanoke Memorial, or Lewis Gale.

"Obviously at three and a half hours, we're looking at calling the magistrate and extending it if that's something we need to do," said Felicia Prescott, Senior Director of Adult Services.

The magistrate could grant a one-time, two-hour extension to the order.

The team keeps calling psychiatric hospitals across the state, hoping one of the 16 will answer saying we've got a bed.

"We're not limited to stay within our region for those," Prescott said.

Prescott says the state gives each region money to place patients wherever they can find a bed.

"So the emergency services teams can continue to look for options when they may have hit a wall locally," Prescott said.

The clock strikes 11 p.m. and time's up. The patient is either heads to a psychiatric facility under a temporary detention order, or after six hours, is heading home.

There is no time restriction for law enforcement to transport a patient to a mental health facility once a bed is located.

A hearing must be held within 48 hours of a temporary detention order being issued.

The judge decides if the patient should be committed.

The length of stay is up to the patient's doctor.