Va. lawmakers’ work starts on mental hospital staffing shortage

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s behavioral health commissioner told lawmakers Thursday about the spending she says is needed to make facilities safer after admissions were halted at five state hospitals amid a staffing shortage — including $75 million for salaries and pay increases.

Behavioral Health and Developmental Services Commissioner Alison Land told members of a subcommittee created in 2014 to study and improve mental health services, that the “safety net is no longer safe.”

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports Land says she wants to minimize the time that admissions are closed.

The department will use $25 million in emergency funding to bring out-of-state contract staff to hospitals where admissions are currently halted and for employee bonuses that Land hopes will be effective in August.

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