Western State Hospital officials say the facility is experiencing a critical staffing shortage, especially in its nursing department.
An internal memo from director Jack Barber tells staff that the state-run mental hospital is finding it increasingly harder to meet federal nursing-care standards. The News Leader obtained a copy of the e-mail, which also says the hospital has had to drop some therapy groups and other patient-support services.
Governor Bob McDonnell's proposed budget also would cut Western State's funding by $1.2 million next year. That comes on top of $5.1 million in reduced state funding over the past two years.
Federal standards require 5 1/2 hours of daily nursing care for each newly admitted patient and five hours for longer-term patients.
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