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In partnership with families, the Greater Richmond ARC creates life-fulfilling opportunities for individuals with disabilities.


$500 million initiative builds on efforts to boost community-based & institutional care

Governor Mark R. Warner announced Tuesday, December 6, proposals that will take the next significant steps to help Virginians seeking treatment in the Commonwealth's mental health and mental retardation care system. The initiative begins long overdue improvements to the state's system of residential treatment, and continues investing in the Commonwealth's network of community-based mental health services.

The Governor will propose replacement of two outdated state hospitals and two aging state training centers with state-of-the-art treatment facilities, located at or near the same sites, that will provide quality residential care in facilities that meet current building codes. These new facilities, which will not require the layoffs of any current employees of the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services, will be more efficient to operate, and generally smaller in size. The four facilities are: Western State Hospital in Staunton, Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Central Virginia Training Center in Lynchburg, and Southeastern Virginia Training Center in Chesapeake. The combined replacement value of these four facilities is estimated at $290 million.

The Governor's initiative also includes significant new investment in community-based services for the next biennium. Proposed General Fund spending of $116 million will draw-down more than $52 million in federal funds, for a total of almost $170 million in new funding for community-based behavioral health services.

"The time is right for this reinvestment in our behavioral health system because the state is financially healthy, and the needs at our facilities and in our community-based system are well-known," Governor Warner said at a Richmond news conference attended by a bipartisan group of General Assembly members who have demonstrated leadership on mental health issues.

"Let me offer this assurance to advocates and family members: we believe everyone who needs a bed in a state facility will have one, but whenever possible, we will serve people in the community as our first option," Governor Warner said.

"These ongoing efforts to improve mental health services have helped us demonstrate that when services are available in the community, the demand for facility care goes down," said Dr. James Reinhard, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse Services. "Working with Governor Warner and the state legislature, we also have demonstrated that building community services is not only the right thing to do, it also allows us to use our resources more efficiently."

At today's announcement, Governor Warner also expressed appreciation for General Assembly support for previous administration initiatives designed to improve mental health and mental retardation treatment and services:

In 2003, the legislature approved the Governor's Community Reinvestment Initiative,which redirected over $10 million to on-going community programs such as crisis intervention, discharge assistance, programs of assertive community treatment, jail services teams, and the purchase of slots in private, inpatient facilities.

In 2004, the legislature endorsed an additional 860 community-based waiver slots for people with mental health and mental retardation needs.

In 2005, the state funded $3.85 million to support seven new crisis stabilization programs, and allocated nearly $2 million for the purchase of local inpatient services from private providers.

Additional details of the mental health initiative will be announced in conjunction with the December 16, 2005, introduction of Governor Warner's budget proposal.

(Pictured below: Marshall W. Butler, Jr., President, The Greater Richmond ARC, Delegate Franklin P. Hall (D-Richmond), and Governor Mark R. Warner)

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