Western State Hospital growth delayed, costs rise

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia state officials are telling lawmakers the expansion of a mental health hospital in Staunton is being delayed and costs are going up.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported Monday that an architect working on the $22.3 million project at Western State Hospital based drawings on an outdated building code.

The approximately nine-month delay that mistake caused comes as the state grapples with an overcrowding crisis at its mental hospitals. Officials say costs will be inflated by about $1 million.

Republican House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones says he is "bitterly disappointed" and the mistake shows "a lack of leadership."

A top mental health official says the state's nine mental hospitals were operating at 97.5% of their capacity two weeks ago, with five housing more patients than beds.