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    Riverside psychiatric emergency department, urgent mental health and recovery care

    By Sarah Goode,


    Watch the Digital Desk segment with Hospital President Stacey Johnson.

    HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) – In the fall of 2023, Riverside Health System opened the state’s first stand-alone psychiatric emergency department.

    They began seeing patients November 1, 2023. Since then, they’ve seen over 3,100 patients. The psychiatric emergency department is part of the Riverside Mental Health & Recovery Center .

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Riverside cuts ribbon on state’s first psychiatric emergency department

    Hospital President Stacey Johnson joined the Digital Desk to discuss the department and impact since its doors opened. Watch the segment in the video player on this page.

    “Our psychiatric emergency department is the first-of-its-kind in Virginia, so we’re excited to be able to offer this,” Johnson said. “And, really its a place for individuals to come that have an urgent mental health or recovery need.”

    The psychiatric emergency department treats patients with psychiatric or substance use concerns. It is open for patients ages five and older. The department is staffed with mental health professionals that really support individuals through the crisis.

    “We’ve had folks coming to our facilities seeking urgent treatment for a long time, which was one of the premises in really driving this and looking up opening up a service like this,” Johnson said.

    Separate from a traditional emergency room, it is specifically designed to care for these types of cases. The space includes treatment areas, open community areas, sensory rooms, secure outdoors areas, on-site lab services and more.

    PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Riverside announces first psychiatric emergency department in the region

    “Everyone comes in and they get a medical screening exam, a crisis evaluation, see what’s going on and really see how we can help,” Johnson said.

    The building is set up in both system and design to create an environment to calm and de-escalate their patients. It is a very different experience to a typical emergency room department, said Johnson, where it can be very stimulating in the noise, lights and people in the space.

    The emergency department area is about 16,000 square feet and fits a side for both pediatric and adult care.

    “Really to be able to interact with individuals within the same age range can also go a long way in terms of starting that healing process,” Johnson said.

    The CDC says over 1 in 5 youth, ages 13-18, either currently or in their life will have had a seriously debilitating mental illness. And, the CDC’s recent report Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011-2021 outlines students feeling persistently sad, hopeless, experiencing poor mental health.

    “It’s amazing to be able to talk to parents of their children who are just not sure what to do and to have a place where they can come that is destigmatizing, that understands the uniqueness of the individual diagnosis or what might be happening,” Johnson said.

    Helping people before crisis, local family sheds light on mental health awareness

    The work does not stop with the visit to the emergency psychiatric department. The team works to set individuals up with services to continue the healing. They offer partial hospitalization programs for recovery and mental health, they connect with community resources and more, depending on the patient’s needs.

    Going forward, Johnson said the center is working on furthering certain programs, like the general mental health outpatient clinic.

    “If we all can be part of the change and de-stigmatization and be comfortable talking about, I think that’s going to really help our community and nationally,” Johnson said.

    Click here to find out more about the mental health services offered at Riverside.

    The Riverside Mental Health & Recovery Center offers services to individuals experiencing mental health issues 24/7. Call 757-827-3119 to hear more about services. Walk in-services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    If you or someone you know is in crisis, call or text 988 to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline .

    For information on programs, events, presentations and support groups the National Alliance on Mental Illness offers, click here .

    If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK.

    Watch the full Digital Desk segment to learn more about the Psychiatric Emergency Department.

    Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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