Catawba Hospital study stalls in Senate committee

Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 7:37 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A committee in the Virginia State Senate has voted to carry over legislation calling for a study of Catawba Hospital.

Lawmakers agreed to include the future of the Roanoke County facility in a larger review of Virginia’s mental health system, but a standalone study will have to wait.

The legislation called for the state to study the feasibility of transforming Catawba Hospital into a state-of-the art facility that includes substance abuse treatment and recovery services, along with the mental health care it already provides.

Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) introduced the legislation.

“This is in some ways is a capstone to a three-year project where dozens of organizations including law enforcement, private providers, developed the Roanoke Valley blueprint for action,” Rasoul told lawmakers on the committee.

Members of the Senate Rules Committee, including Bath County Democrat Creigh Deeds and Bedford County Republican Steve Newman, expressed support for the concept, but they voted to include Catawba in the larger study of Virginia’s mental health system.

“So we have language in the budget to examine what to do with the hospital system, because it’s clear we have crisis in different areas,” Deeds said during the meeting, “I think it’s a good idea, it’s one that needs to be part of that.”

Rasoul said he will continue to advocate for the proposal.

“We were able to get it out of the House and take it up to the Senate. We hopefully will get some budget language,” Rasoul told WDBJ7 in an interview after the hearing. “I’m saddened it couldn’t come out of the Senate in its current form, but hopefully we’ll continue to try to get some good things done.”

Even the larger study of Virginia’s mental health system isn’t a done deal. It’s currently included in the Senate budget, but not the House version.

What happens to that proposal, and the specific language related to Catawba Hospital, should come into focus next week, when negotiators deliver a budget compromise.

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