Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Va. senator sues state for neglect in son's death; rural mental health officials failed to provide a bed

Sen. Creigh Deeds (D-Va.), whose mentally ill son in 2013 stabbed him several times before killing himself, has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the state for neglect in his son's death, Laurence Hammack and Luanne Rife report for The Roanoke Times. The night before his death, Gus Deeds was released by rural Bath County authorities after six hours in emergency custody when mental health workers failed to find an available psychiatric bed in the region. Investigators later determined that beds were available.

"The tragedy prompted Deeds’ colleagues in the General Assembly to confront the way Virginia treats people with mental illnesses, especially those in a crisis," Hammack and Rife write. "They created a statewide bed registry so that mental health care workers can more easily find a private placement, and if they cannot, state hospitals must take the patients."

"Deeds’ lawsuit, filed in Bath County Circuit Court, blames the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the local mental health agency that handled the case, the Rockbridge Area Community Services Board. Michael Gentry, a mental health worker for the community services board, is also named as a defendant," Hammack and Rife write. "The lawsuit alleges Gentry failed to take proper steps to have Gus Deeds committed after his father had him detained temporarily on an emergency custody order the morning of Nov. 18, 2013. Deeds was released later that day after Gentry said he could not find a placement—even though it later became clear that at least five facilities in the area had room that day to admit him."

The Recorder, a weekly newspaper serving Virginia's Bath and Highland counties, has stayed on top of the story since the beginning and is a good source to keep checking for further developments.

No comments: