Lynchburg psychiatric emergency room may permanently close

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LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7) A special emergency room designed to handle mental health cases remains closed in Lynchburg and could stay that way indefinitely.

Centra opened a Psychiatric Emergency Center at Lynchburg General Hospital last November. It closed less than two months later on January 11, when a patient at the facility named Jonathan Warner was shot by a security officer.

The Psychiatric Emergency Center was supposed to give mental health patients a private and therapeutic place to receive treatment, away from the chaos of a traditional emergency room. Centra spokesperson Diane Ludwig said those services are still being provided.

"When mental health patients come in with a mental health crisis, they are being treated and triaged in the emergency room and they are remaining there in a private location," Ludwig told WDBJ7 Wednesday.

Lynchburg's Commonwealth's Attorney Mike Doucette is deciding whether any criminal charges should be pressed in relation to January's shooting. He's expected to release his findings next week.

Ludwig said Centra will evaluate whether to reopen the psychiatric emergency center after the shooting investigation is complete.