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Governor, Secretary and Commissioner Visit Southwest Virginia Mental Health Institute

The Tour
Health and Human Resources Secretary Marilyn Tavenner and DMHMRSAS Commissioner James Reinhard joined Governor Tim Kaine at Southwestern Virginia Mental Health Institute (SWVMHI) on Monday September 18, 2006 as part of the Governor’s plan to hold cabinet meetings outside of Richmond in all regions of the state. All were welcomed to the Institute by Dr. Cynthia McClaskey, SWVMHI Director, community services board representatives, and local and state officials. Also present to for the tour were Victoria Huber Cochran, Chair, and Daniel Karnes, Vice Chair, of the State MHMRSAS Board.

Governor Kaine thanked staff for their hard work and dedication, and congratulated SWVMHI’s Employees of the Quarter for their accomplishments. Commissioner Reinhard referred to SWVMHI as “one of the best state hospitals in the country.”

Governor Kaine, Secretary Tavenner and Commissioner Reinhard toured the facility, greeted staff and met briefly with SWVMHI Consumer Empowerment Recovery Council members. Council members discussed the development and structure of their organization, and its goal to improve housing and transportation for people with mental illness. Governor Kaine welcomed their input and invited the group to contact him in the future.

The dedication of the staff, through their high quality care and longevity of service, was recognized by all three guests during their visit. SWVMHI is a place where excellent clinical care is provided by qualified and caring staff, and most importantly, a place where hope is engendered so that recovery can occur.

Specifics of Southwest Virginia and SWVMHI
During the tour, Dr. Cynthia McClaskey described the special nature of SWVMHI and the far southwestern Virginia region. The Far Southwest region, compared to the rest of the state, is rural with high rates of poverty, high numbers of uninsured and a high percentage of people on Medicaid. Adults in Southwest Virginia die at higher rates than adults in the rest of Virginia, and are more likely to die from heart disease, lung disease, pneumonia or influenza, diabetes, and suicide, among others. There is an epidemic of substance abuse.

SWVMHI is the “Safety Net”
SWVMHI is the only “full-service” state psychiatric facility in the Commonwealth: with Geriatrics (one of four in the state), Adult Acute Admissions, Adolescent Unit (one of two in the state) and Extended Rehabilitative Services (long term patients).

SWVMHI has admitted between 1300 and 1400 persons per year for each of the last three fiscal years. This number has risen and stayed high since 2002. More than half of the admissions arrive on second shift. More than 70% come directly to SWVMHI from their homes, board and care or other facilities, or the streets, without being first admitted to another (private) psychiatric facility, as occurs in other regions. This high number of admissions is almost twice that of any other state hospital in Virginia.

Efforts on behalf of staff resulted in SWVMHI having consistently low employee turnover rates. During fiscal year 2006, the turnover rate dropped to 10.4% of the overall workforce. Direct Care turnover rates (RNs, LPNs, and psychiatric aides) were also very low. In fiscal year 2006, this rate was 12.4%.

The staff has worked very hard to develop relationships with Nursing schools by serving as a site for clinical rotations. On average each year, SWVMHI hosts 160 students from seven RN programs. SWVMHI has worked very hard to decrease overtime. In fiscal year 2006, the overtime cost was 0.06% of the personnel budget, the second lowest of 28 psychiatric hospitals in the southern United States that were surveyed.

In 1999, SWVMHI undertook training in the principles and approaches of psychiatric rehabilitation. Psychiatric rehabilitation facilitates recovery from mental illness, which is a personal process of change experienced by each person in a unique way. The feelings, actions, and relationships associated with “getting over” or “moving beyond” typical life experiences are not unlike those of people who recover from the losses that are associated with mental illness.

In 2006, an Employee Recognition Committee was formed to acknowledge and formally recognize the continuous service and exemplary contributions toward the facility mission, vision and values by Institute employees. The Committee is made up of staff from diverse areas and levels of the organization.

Providing Good Care Consistently
As evidence that SWVMHI has been able to continue to provide a high level of care, the facility has received the following excellent results from external accrediting or certifying bodies:

To read more about Southwest Virginia Mental Health Institute, follow this link:

SWVMHI director greets the governor

SWVMHI Director Cynthia McClaskey, Ph.D. and Employee of the Quarter Carol Davis, Rehabilitation Specialist Supervisor, are delighted to be among the first to greet Governor Tim Kaine as he arrives at SWVMHI on September 18, 2006.

local CSB director greets the governor

Lisa Moore, Executive Director of Mount Rogers Community Services and Lonzo Lester, SWVMHI Financial Director, add their welcome.

governor thanks the nurses

Governor Kaine thanks Nursing Services employees for their hard work and dedication, from left to right, Ben Johnson, RN, Betty Hash, RN Clinician A, and Julie Stoots, Head Nurse.

governor greets environmental workers

Governor Kaine greets SWVMHI 30-year employee Robert Stump, Equipment Repair Technician Senior, and 22-year employee George Dutton, Director, Environmental Services.

governor Kaine welcomed by Dr. Reinhard

Commissioner James S. Reinhard, M.D., welcomes Governor Kaine and Secretary Tavenner to SWVMHI with a few remarks.

governor poses with employees of the quarter

Gov. Kaine and Dr. McClaskey pose with Employees of the Quarter, from left to right, Tony Cress, Payroll, C.J. Copenhaver, Human Services Care Specialist, and Carol Davis.





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