Sen. Deeds Proposes Changes to Va. Mental Health Law

Jan. 17, 2014

Two months after he was attacked and nearly killed by his son, state Senator Creigh Deeds spoke passionately to a senate subcommittee about changing the mental health system that couldn't get Austin “Gus” Deeds the help he needed.

Gus Deeds killed himself shortly after attacking his father November 19th. He'd been released from a mental hospital that couldn't find him a bed just 24 hours earlier, although there were other hospitals nearby with room.

Sen. Deeds is sponsoring a bill to create an online, real-time bed registry, as well as a bill that would increase the amount of time the state can take emergency custody of health patients.

"Someone for whom an [Emergency Custody Order] has been issued should not be released until a bed is found, and so the four hours and then the two hour extension don't, they aren't long enough,” Sen. Deeds said. “This bill says 24 hours."

The American Civil Liberties Union expressed concern the 24-hour detention would infringe on patient rights. Others worry about where to keep patients while a bed is located.

Another hearing is scheduled for next week.

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