WASHINGTON -- The tragic death of a Virginia state senator's son uncovered a dire problem -- a lack of psychiatric beds in Virginia. Now, a private mental health hospital is being proposed for Woodbridge to meet a need in the commonwealth.
Sen. Creigh Deeds' son Austin "Gus" Deeds took his own life Nov. 19, just hours after a bed could not be found in time for him. Across the state, the need for psychiatric beds is growing and the proposal for Woodbridge would provide 75 beds.
Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart says the Board of Supervisors is sending a letter to the Virginia Health Department asking for the hospital be approved.
"We're not asking for any funding," Stewart says about the private hospital, which would be built by U.S. HealthVest.
Stewart says a decision should come by the end of March.
"There's a huge need," Stewart says. "We only have a few beds in Northern Virginia," and none in Prince William County.
"We can't continue to ignore this problem. We need more facilities in Northern Virginia and across Virginia. And all the government has to do is get out of the way. Let the private sector build this new facility," Stewart says.
Last month, the Health Systems Agency of Northern Virginia, a non-profit that specializes in research for the health services industry, recommended against opening a new mental health facility in Prince William County.
"We're very disappointed in that result," Stewart says.
But ultimately, Virginia Department of Health will make the decision.
"We're just hoping that they'll approve the facility," he says.
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