More beds welcome news

Published 9:33 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The announcement Tuesday that Sentara Obici Hospital will double the number of beds available to treat psychiatric patients by July is welcome news on a number of levels.

Blessedly gone are the days when psychiatric patients were relegated to the fringes of society. These days, the medical profession and most everyone else recognizes the importance of treating patients with psychiatric conditions just as they would someone with any other medical condition.

Psychiatric patients could be a family member or neighbor of yours — and maybe not who you might think. With the proper treatment, many with psychiatric conditions can overcome their condition and lead fulfilling lives.

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However, accessing that treatment has been a burden for many, especially in rural areas like Western Tidewater.

Since the current building was built, Sentara Obici Hospital has had 10 psychiatric beds that have been occupied most of the time. It announced Tuesday it will double that number to 20, meaning that more patients from Suffolk and the surrounding areas will be able to access care when they need it.

There are, of course, other psychiatric care facilities in Hampton Roads and in other areas of the state, and many families are be willing to travel if their loved one can get the care they need.

But, as Phyllis Stoneburner, vice president for patient care services at Obici, pointed out Tuesday, being close to home and able to be supported by family is crucial to many patients. The increase in number alone will have a ripple effect across the state, as patients from Western Tidewater no longer will need to fill beds in Virginia Beach or Williamsburg to get care.

Sentara conducted a community survey a few years ago and discovered that psychiatric care was one of the main priorities of community members. They have now delivered on that need, which brings up the other piece of good news in this story.

Sentara, it would appear, cares about the communities it serves and is acting to fulfill unmet needs. We look forward to more good news about additional resources and services in a variety of areas.