Va. report: Mental health response system failed Gus Deeds

WASHINGTON – The Virginia Office of the Inspector General released a report Thursday finding the psychiatric emergency response system failed Va. state Sen. Creigh Deed’s son the day before he attacked his father and killed himself.

The report shows multiple system failings after Gus Deeds, who was 24, was taken under an Emergency Custody Order on Nov. 18, 2013.

Under Virginia law, the order expires after six hours, which is the least amount of time required for a protective hold in the country.

The report finds emergency responders didn’t use that time well. Once a Bath County Sheriff’s deputy brought him to the hospital, the younger Deeds waited for more than an hour before a family member reminded staff to request response from a trained psychiatric evaluator.

The evaluator, traveling from the Rockbridge Area Community Services offices in Lexington, Va., arrived more than an hour after that.

After the evaluation determined Deeds’ health required a Temporary Detention Order, the report says the evaluator claimed he spent more than two hours calling call 10 psychiatric facilities looking for an open bed.

The investigation found that claim inaccurate. Instead, the evaluator was found to have called only seven psychiatric facilities, and that the three he did not call did have open beds on Nov. 18. When the extension of his custody order expired and a bed wasn’t found, Deeds refused requests to stay at the hospital, the report says.

The next day, the 24-year-old stabbed his father and shot and killed himself. Earlier this year, Creigh Deeds recounted the events of the day.

The report recommended several changes to improve the state’s response to mental health emergencies: First, the state create an online psychiatric bed registry. Second, the state develop policies to coordinate efforts between all agencies, including law enforcement. Third, it uncouple the search for a bed from the process of detaining a patient.

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