Court Hears About WV Efforts In Easing Hospital Crowding

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

Charleston, WV (AP) -- A Kanawha County judge Monday heard testimony about the state's efforts to ease crowded conditions at its two psychiatric hospitals, efforts that range from adding new beds to spending $17.5 million since 2006 on community care.

But witnesses also said West Virginia is running to reach a position it had 15 years ago, when as a leader of deinstitutionalization it had a surplus of psychiatric hospital beds.

Judge Duke Bloom convened the evidentiary hearing to determine what the state is doing about crowding in the Mildred Mitchell-Bateman Hospital in Huntington and the William R. Sharpe Hospital in Weston.

Bateman hospital has gotten most of the attention, since the crowding there is more acute.

Vickie Jones, a deputy commissioner in the State Bureau for Behavioral Health, testified that the two hospitals had roughly 60 empty beds in 1996.

Today, the two hospitals have about 100 more patients than there are beds for them.

The state is increasing the number of beds at the hospitals and contracting with Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital for the use of beds there.

But Jones says those are short-term solutions to the problem.

(Copyright 2009 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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