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DBHDS Press Releases

For Immediate Release:  November 4, 2010
[ link to pdf ]

New Adult Mental Health Treatment Center Officially Opened at Eastern State Hospital

Richmond – The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) officially opened the new Adult Mental Health Treatment Center today at Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg. This new center is a part of a General Assembly-approved plan to reduce the hospital’s sprawling campus size and upgrade its physical structures to meet today’s modern standards.

“Not only is the new building more efficient to operate than dozens of smaller, aging structures, but it is far better for the treatment needs of those who are being served,” said DBHDS Commissioner James W. Stewart, III. “There have already been reports of individuals engaging more fully in treatment, or participating in activities that were not as readily available in the old buildings designed in the 1940s and 50s for treatment that reflected that era.”

Designed by Clark Nexsen Architecture & Engineering and built by the Gilbane Development Company, the new $59.7 million building has 145 beds for adults under age-65 with serious mental illness and five medical beds. The center expands on Eastern State’s successful “treatment malls” that allow individuals to choose a curriculum that best assists with their own paths to recovery. The new design enhances individuals’ opportunities to develop life-skills and prepare for living successfully in the community upon discharge.

Eastern State Hospital is the first public psychiatric facility in the nation dedicated solely to the care and treatment of individuals with mental illness. At its peak in the 1960s, the hospital had a census of approximately 2,500. Deinstitutionalization occurred across Virginia and the U.S. as a number of factors, including vastly improved medications and the establishment of an array of community support services, enabled the majority of individuals with serious mental illness to be served in their own communities.

Today, Eastern State has 300 beds, 150 in its geriatric center for individuals over age-65 and 150 in the new adult center. The geriatric center was completed in 2008. The current total hospital census is 292.

These two projects complete the first two phases of the new Eastern State Hospital. The third and final phase, once funded and constructed, will include a wide range of critical support services and outdoor therapeutic areas. The new campus will be far more efficient and will have only seven buildings (three new buildings and four existing buildings) on 120 acres instead of 37 aging structures on 350 acres.


Available to citizens statewide, Virginia’s public mental health, intellectual disability and substance abuse services system is comprised of 40 community services boards (CSBs) and 16 state facilities. DBHDS seeks to promote dignity, choice, recovery, and the highest possible level of participation in work, relationships, and all aspects of community life for individuals with a mental illness, intellectual disability or a substance-use disorder.

1220 Bank Street P.O. Box 1797 Richmond, Virginia 23218-1797
Phone: (804) 786-3921
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