RD258 - Annual Report on the Implementation of Senate Bill 260 (2014) – July 27, 2020
In response to concerns about Virginia’s behavioral health crisis response system, the General Assembly enacted SB 260 in 2014 to ensure that every individual who met the criteria for temporary detention was provided with timely access to inpatient psychiatric care. Since the enactment of SB 260, Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) has continued to partner with the relevant stakeholders, including the community services boards (CSBs), state psychiatric hospitals, private hospitals, magistrates, law enforcement, and others to monitor the requirements set forth in SB 260. An overview of the legislation can be found in Appendix A. The most salient impacts of SB 260 for Virginia’s behavioral health crisis response system are described below.
• Following an initial increase in the second year, the average daily number of face-to-face evaluations completed by CSB emergency services clinicians for involuntary hospitalizations in FY 2016 has decreased steadily.
o FY 2015: 229 evaluations per day; 83,701 total
• After a slight increase in the second year, the number of temporary detention orders (TDOs) issued daily has remained relatively stable over time.
o FY 2015: 68 TDOs issued daily; 24,889 total
• Since the enactment of SB 260, there was a continual increase in the daily number of state hospital admissions of individuals under a TDO between FY 2015 and FY 2019, growing by 389 percent between FY 2013 and FY 2019. The first two quarters of FY 2020 indicate a slight decrease in the daily number of state hospital admissions of individuals under a TDO.
o In FY 2013, state hospitals admitted an average of 3.7 individuals per day under a TDO or a total of 1,359 admissions
The information above shows that while face-to-face evaluations are trending downward and overall TDO rates are relatively steady across Virginia, TDO admissions to state hospital have overall increased dramatically, growing from 1,359 TDO admissions prior to the implementation of SB 260 to a total of 6,649 admissions in FY 2019, for a growth rate of 389%. The primary reason for the continuing growth in TDO admissions to state hospitals is the declining rate of private hospital admissions for individuals under a TDO, dropping from 91.2% in FY 2015 to 76.1% in FY 2019. This overall trend is continuing in the first three quarters of FY 2020.
Virginia’s state hospitals are operating at a 95% utilization rate or above. Research and national standards show that operating at 85% of capacity is optimal for both patients and staff. Utilization rates significantly above 85% can compromise the quality of care and impact patient and staff safety. Staff turnover and vacancy rates have grown along with the increase in average daily census at the state hospitals. The vacancy rates have increased as the state hospitals struggle to retain current staff and successfully recruit new staff. Figure 2 shows the turnover and vacancy rates for key positions in FY 2019. In FY 2019, DBHDS received $12.2 million to bring the salaries of registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), and direct service associates (DSAs) within 3% of the market salary. These increases went into effect on January 10, 2019. While it is too early to determine the long-range impact of these actions, turnover and vacancy rates are improved for DSA positions; the turnover rate for LPN positions has improved while vacancy rates have slightly risen; RN turnover and vacancy have been steady; the Medical Internist retention rate has decreased while the vacancy rate has risen; and the psychiatrist turnover rate has improved while the vacancy rate has slightly increased.
The lack of community based housing and support services further compounds state hospital census pressures. In FY 2018, a monthly average of 167 persons, or approximately 12% percent of all individuals in state hospitals, were clinically ready to leave but were unable to do so due to a lack of community resources. In FY 2019, the number grew to an average of 13% of all individuals in state hospitals. In the first two quarters of FY 2020, an average of 16% of all individuals in state hospitals were considered clinically ready for discharge, but unable to leave due to a lack of appropriate community resources.
DBHDS continues to work diligently with the community services boards and private providers to address the growing census pressures related to individuals who are clinically ready to leave state hospitals by investing in residential and support services. Beginning in FY 2017, DBHDS began working with three CSBs to create assisted living facilities (ALF) for individuals who require an ALF level of care after discharged from state hospitals. In FY 2018, DBHDS also invested in the development of four additional transitional group homes for individuals who are able to transition into more integrated community settings, in addition to the two group homes that already existed. DBHDS also partnered with the Department of Aging and Rehabilitation Services (DARS) in 2017 in order to provide public guardianship slots for individuals in state hospitals who require this prior to discharge, as well as contracting for additional private guardianship slots in FY 2019 and FY 2020. In FY 2020, DBHDS began additional initiatives to assist in expediting discharge of individuals from state hospitals who are clinically ready to discharge, including increased partnering with CSB crisis stabilization units (CSUs) for state hospital stepdown and discharges. Additionally the Department began working with a private assisted living provider with facilities across Virginia that can serve older adults and individuals who require memory care. DBHDS will continue investing in specialized community residential infrastructure and support services in FY 2021, and focus on addressing the complex medical and intensive supervisory needs of individuals who are clinically ready for discharge from state hospitals.