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* Hampton City News

Posted on: October 5, 2023

Riverside's mental health ER in Hampton is first in Virginia

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Oct. 5, 2023 - Riverside Health System today cut the ribbon on a psychiatric emergency room in Hampton — the first such facility in the state. It is designed to provide immediate care to people in a mental health or addiction crisis.

"This is the first of its kind in Virginia," Gov. Glenn Youngkin said. He said the facility will provide help "to Virginians who need it now." Youngkin noted that support for mental health and addiction is a non-partisan issue: "Mental health does not discriminate. It affects everyone."

"This puts another first on Hampton's scorecard," Mayor Donnie Tuck said. Hampton contributed $3 million to the facility, which will provide needed care to citizens in crisis and will also benefit law enforcement.

Currently, someone in a mental crisis goes to a regular hospital emergency room, where there are bright lights, lots of noise, and people moving around constantly. They may wait there for several days if they need in-patient care and a bed is not available. Typically, ERs may not have psychiatric care on site and can provide stabilization but cannot begin treatment.

If patients are brought in by police, officers often need to stay with them at all times, which takes officers away from their regular duties. This facility will allow officers to place people into a secure facility.

Stacey Johnson, executive director of the Riverside Mental Health & Recovery Center, highlighted the difference in care. "It is a calm, soothing environment, and it will be staffed 24/7 with people who are trained in psychiatric care," she said. 

Riverside Chief Executive Officer Dr. Mike Dacey praised the cooperation that embraced the concept of the facility. "The is the private sector and local governments working together to raise people up," he said.   

Dr. Ryan McQueen, Riverside's chief medical officer for behavioral health, pledged: "We will defeat the stigma of mental illness and bring support to the people who need. it."

The emergency room is an addition to and a transformation of Riverside's existing mental health hospital. It has offered adult acute-care services, an adolescent treatment unit, inpatient detoxification services, outpatient addiction support, and other addiction services. The new ER will have separate areas for adults and minors, as well as a separate area for those who may be facing charges by police. It is seamlessly connected to the hospital, which can provide inpatient treatment. Outpatient services will also be provided.

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