Catawba Hospital plan clears first hurdle in House of Delegates

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 7:18 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - A plan that would transform Catawba Hospital has cleared its first hurdle in the House of Delegates.

In a vote Thursday morning, a House subcommittee advanced the legislation that would create a state-of-the-art campus for mental health care and addiction recovery.

Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) cited the work of ‘Dopesick’ author Beth Macy and the suffering experienced by southwest Virginia families as he made the case for a major transformation of Catawba Hospital.

“We’re very familiar with how the opioid epidemic and substance use disorder have ravaged our communities,” Rasoul said.

The options identified by a state consultant call for the renovation of existing buildings and construction of new ones, to create a facility that would offer innovative treatment for substance use disorder, in addition to the behavioral health care the facility already provides.

“We searched high and low,” Rasoul said during his presentation. “This would really be a first of its kind, for sure in Virginia, but maybe around the country to be able to integrate acute care, residential treatment, outpatient services as well as a number of other potential services on one campus.”

Supporters included representatives of the Virginia Association of Community-Based Providers and the Roanoke Regional Chamber of Commerce, several local leaders online and Del. Chris Head (R-Botetourt Co.).

“If I can double down on everything that Del. Rasoul said, this is a really important initiative and it is critical just for the Commonwealth as a whole, but also for our region,” Head told members of the subcommittee. The vote was nine in favor, with no one voting no.

Rasoul has also submitted a budget amendment that would provide more than $140 million for the project.

The legislation is now headed to the full Committee on Health, Welfare and Institutions. And if it’s successful there, a trip to the House Appropriations Committee will come next.