Search Results for: virginia inspector general

After Sen. Creigh Deeds Tragedy, State Officials Removed Damning Reports From Website


(1-18-16) State officials have quietly removed two years worth of Inspector General reports from a government website that showed they were aware of a dangerous hospital bed shortage at least two years before state Senator Creigh Deeds and his son were told no hospital beds were available and turned away with tragic results.

When Deeds drove his mentally ill son, Austin “Gus” Deeds, to a mental health center on November 18, 2013, he was informed no local hospital beds were available and sent home. Later that day, Gus stabbed his father repeatedly before ending his own life. Sen. Deeds has filed a $6 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit against state mental health officials, claiming negligence.

The IG reports, which could help Deeds’ legal case, were removed from the Office of State Inspector General website sometime after May 2014 at roughly the same time speculation about the state’s liability began making the rounds at the state capitol in Richmond.

A spokesman for State Inspector General June Jennings told me in an email on Friday (1-15)  that the missing IG reports were removed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), which oversees 16 state facilities and assists 40 local Community Service Boards in delivering mental health services. The DBHDS is a defendant in Deeds’ wrongful death lawsuit. An official at the DBHDS, however, told me Friday that it was Jennings’ office that decided to remove the reports from its website.

Jennings’s spokesperson said the IG reports have not been destroyed. They are stored in the IG Office’s electronic archives. While still available, removing them from the IG website makes them much more difficult for the public and for Deeds’ attorneys to identify, locate and read.

The content of those reports go to the heart of Deeds’ wrongful death lawsuit.

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Sen. Creigh Deeds Sues Mental Health Officials, New York Gov. Orders Homeless Off The Streets, Philanthropist Ted Stanley Dies


Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds has filed a $6 million wrongful death suit against mental health workers, New York’s governor is ordering local governments to take homeless individuals off the streets during frigid weather and mental health philanthropist Ted Stanley has died.

These three stories caught my eye this week. I’ve printed the Washington Post’s account of Deeds’ lawsuit at the end of this blog. Deeds is suing the state, the mental health agency that serves his community, and the mental health evaluator who failed to find a hospital bed for his son, Gus, who was sent home untreated. Gus attacked his father before killing himself. Mental health workers are understandably concerned about the suit.

Should a mental health provider and evaluator be held responsible for not providing treatment?

I am surprised that New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision to force homeless people into shelters once the temperature drops to 32 degrees Fahrenheit or below isn’t getting much attention. “It’s about love. It’s about compassion. It’s about helping one another and basic human decency,” Cuomo told reporters.

That common sense compassion caused an uproar when New York Mayor Ed Koch announced in 1985  that he would begin taking homeless, mentally ill individuals off the street at night during freezing temperatures. New York’s American Civil Liberties Union sued for the release of Joyce Brown, a homeless, psychotic women who had been forcibly removed and hospitalized. She had spent more than a year living on a steam grate clad at times only in a cotton blouse and skirt with socks on her feet and a sheet wrapped around her body during frigid nights. Brown would rip up money she panhandled, run into traffic, and expose her bare buttocks and scream racial slurs and profanities. A New York judge ruled in favor of releasing Brown back to her steam grate, stating that Brown was “an experienced street professional” and therefore fully capable of being homeless. The city appealed that ruling and won, but the ACLU lawyers continued the fight and eventually Brown was ordered released. You can read an excellent account of that case in Madness in the Streets, by Rael Jean Isaac and Virginia C. Armat. 

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Dying in Jail Cells: No Room In State Hospitals For Jailed Prisoners

mitchell(9-30-15) In a comprehensive front page story in today’s edition, The Washington Post describes how a 24 year old black man with mental illness died in jail after waiting three months to be sent to a Virginia state mental hospital.

I published a blog about Jamycheal Mitchell’s death earlier this month based on a story written by Lisa Suhay in the Christian Science Monitor. Post reporter Justin Jouvenal goes beyond that initial story to expose an ongoing national scandal — the warehousing of persons with mental illnesses in local jails because of a lack of psychiatric beds in state hospitals.

Mitchell should never have been jailed. He was accused of stealing $5.05 worth of food from a convenience store. He should have been diverted into community care and treatment. His death is yet another senseless tragedy caused by our neglect in providing adequate mental health services and reforming our criminal justice system with an emphasis on diversion.

Mitchell’s name can be added to an increasing number of preventible tragedies that have happened because we are using our jails and prisons as defacto mental asylums. What the public needs to understand is that even if Mitchell had been sent to a state hospital, the goal of the doctors there would have been to restore him to competency for trial — not necessarily to treat him!

Kudos to the Post and Reporter Jouvenal for continuing to expose flaws in our mental health system here in Virginia and across the nation and to Mira Signer, NAMI’s executive director in Virginia, for speaking out about this travesty.

Man accused of stealing $5 in snacks died in jail as he waited for space at mental hospital

By Justin Jouvenal   The Washington Post 

Jamycheal Mitchell had stopped taking his schizophrenia medication before he walked into a 7-Eleven near his family’s Portsmouth, Va., home in April and allegedly stole a Mountain Dew, a Snickers bar and a Zebra Cake totaling $5.05.

After the 24-year-old’s arrest, a judge ordered him to a state psychiatric hospital to get help. But like an increasing number of the mentally ill, he sat in jail for months as he waited for a bed to open.

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Four Keys To Successful Mental Health Programs


Why do some communities have better mental health services than others? In a recent Op Ed published in The Washington Post,   I took my home state of Virginia to task because our outgoing governor appointed yet another task force to study mental health — the 16th in recent years. In that opinion piece, I describe the four “secrets” to success that I have found during my travels.

How does your community fare when it comes to these four earmarks?

Va. doesn’t need another mental health task

By Pete Earley, The Washington Post

Virginians should be embarrassed and angry that a newly appointed state mental health task force convened Tuesday in Richmond. It is the 16th task force asked to investigate the state’s mental health system.

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Testimony Critical of State Mental Health Department Strangely Missing From Public Webpage: Why?

Like Deeds Family, Others Still At Risk

Like Deeds Family, Others Still At Risk

Why is testimony that criticized Virginia’s state mental health department noticably missing from a website that the department created to keep the public informed about a newly appointed mental health task force?

Outgoing Governor Robert McDonnell appointed a task force shortly before leaving office to investigate if the state had sufficient psychiatric  hospital beds for Virginians in the midst of a mental breakdown. The governor took action after Austin “Gus” Deeds, the son of state Senator Creigh Deeds, attacked his father with a knife last November before fatally shooting himself. A mental health worker said after the incident that the younger Deeds had been sent home without treatment because there were no beds available in local hospital psychiatric units.

At the task force’s first meeting held January 7th, one of the final witnesses of the day warned that nothing had changed since the Deeds incident to make beds more accessible. In fact, G. Douglas Bevelacqua, the state’s inspector general for behavioral health, warned that people were still being turned away daily in the state — just as the Deeds family was.

Yet his testimony alone seems to be missing from the recorded remarks that everyone else gave.

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Deeds’ Stabbing and Suicide Expose Bed Shortage But Will Anyone Care Tomorrow?

The stabbing of Virginia state senator Creigh Deeds by his son, Austin, who later killed himself, ignited national headlines this week.  Early reports said “Gus” Deeds was released from a mental health center untreated because there were no crisis care beds available. Officials later blamed a Virginia rule that says the state must either hospitalize or discharge individuals within six hours after picking them up for observation. After he was freed, Gus attacked his father and then  turned a rifle on himself.

I was overwhelmed with calls from reporters because I had written an editorial in 2010 for The Washington Post about how Virginia was backsliding on its promises to improve mental health services after the Virginia Tech massacre. The Post tweeted links to it shortly after the Deeds’ tragedy. It also reminded readers about another Op Ed that I’d penned that described how Virginia hospitals were “streeting” patients — turning them away from emergency rooms — because there were no beds available. That revelation had come from a damning report by VA Inspector General G. Douglas Bevelacqua who has been a lone and relentless voice in Virginia when it comes to spotlighting holes in our state’s system.

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