AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- Health workers hope a new psychiatric bed registry will protect families and speed up the process, but a local lawmaker said red tape is putting Virginians at risk.
Virginia's Department of Behavioral Health said work on the registry started before State Senator Creigh Deeds was stabbed by his son Gus last month; however, that tragedy is making the registry a top priority once again.
David Deering, the executive director of the Valley Community Services Board, one of the groups across the state often charged with finding psychiatric beds in emergencies, recognizes how helpful the bed registry could be.
"It would save time. And time is of the essence in these issues," said Deering.
The online registry will list available psychiatric beds at private and state hospitals, like Western State in Staunton and it's designed to help community service boards across the state find beds more easily in an emergency.
The registry has stalled several times, but now the state has new motivation to get it going.
"It's been frustrating as we have pushed to get this registry rolled out that the state bureaucracy has continued to drag its feet," said State Delegate Ben Cline.
Once it starts, it could still have problems of its own to overcome.
"The catch to the whole thing is how accurate and current the information will be. That's what's key," said Deering.
Deering said for the registry to be effective, it will need more than just the number of empty beds.
"For instance if you had a younger female who was having some kind of substance abuse issue and you're out looking for a bed and you call a place and they have one bed, but it's in an Alzheimer's unit and there's a man in the room. You can't put those together," said Deering.
The bed registry should be ready by March 1, hopefully in time, Cline said, to prevent another tragedy.
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