The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHAA) launched a new dashboard showing inpatient psychiatric admissions at both state-run and private hospitals in Virginia.

“As we work to strengthen and enhance the behavioral health care system, while also confronting workforce shortages and strong demand for psychiatric treatment services being experienced by public and private Virginia hospitals, having verified and reliable data is critical to the process of evaluating potential policy solutions and next steps,” VHHA CEO Sean Connaughton said in a press release.

In 2021, a capacity and staffing crisis at Virginia’s state-run mental health hospitals led to five out of eight of the facilities being temporarily closed to new admissions. That stressed resources in other related fields, including law enforcement. State officials called on the private hospital network to help meet the gap while also calling for increased funding and other resources to address the problems at the eight state-run facilities.

At the time, the VHHA said its private hospitals were willing to help, but also noted that private facilities already handled the majority of psychiatric patients.

That’s evident in the new dashboard, which shows private facilities consistently handling about 88 percent of patients in 2019, 2020, and 2021. That goes up to about 92 percent in 2022, counted from Fiscal Year July 2021 through December 2021, with more data expected in the future.

“The data shows that in recent years, private hospitals have admitted around 90 percent of all behavioral health inpatients. This includes voluntary patients, who account for about 60 percent of annual behavioral health admissions, and court-ordered TDO [Temporary Detention Order] patients who represent about 30 percent of private hospital admissions,” the press release states.

After the closures last year, Virginia’s mental health resources have gotten increased attention from decision-makers, amid generally increased attention to mental health during the impacts of COVID-19 and other recent events.

VHHA Vice President of Data Analytics David Vaamonde said, “Data driven decision making is informed decision making. We experienced that firsthand during the COVID-19 pandemic when the daily hospitalization data we collected and analyzed proved invaluable in helping chart key aspects of the state-level response strategy. Our latest data dashboard can likewise be an important information resource that can be consulted by multiple stakeholders beyond the hospital community as part of the deliberations that will shape behavioral health care strategy in Virginia for years to come.”

This article originally appeared in The Virginia Star. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of The Republican Standard. Republished with permission.