Managers Introduce New, Improved Western State Hospital - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Managers Introduce New, Improved Western State Hospital

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Ribbon-cutting at Western State Ribbon-cutting at Western State

After years of planning and $140 million poured into constructing the new Western State Hospital in Staunton, the managers introduced the state-of-the-art complex to the community Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

Politicians, city leaders and mental health care professionals spoke and celebrated the big day. They're proud of how far treatment has come over the past several decades, and say the new Western State Hospital is a symbol of that growth.

"It's a great day for mental health care in Virginia," said Congressman Bob Goodlatte.

In the past, institutions practiced lobotomies on patients - and Western State was one of them. But that was then, and this is now. The design of the new building maximizes healing, safety and dignity for patients.

"This is an example of how a facility can help with the treatment. The place does matter," said Dr. Bill Hazel, secretary of health and human resources of VA.

Leaders say this is now a model illustrating how mental health care has dramatically evolved.

"Natural light, views to the outside landscape, different kinds of space, so that you can be more or less stimulated, private rooms so you have a sanctuary," said Dr. Jack Barber, facility director of Western State Hospital.

Barber says the patient experience here will be completely different. The wings each feature warm colors inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains, and are named after different trees found in the area.

"What you'll find here is a real state-of-the-art psychiatric facility - probably, as of today, the leading one in the country," said Hazel.

Along with the classes, courtyards and soothing feel comes top-notch security. The glass lets light in, but also helps staff keep an eye on the patients.

It's all reflective of the huge strides in mental health care.

"To see all of this come together and over time get built, I think it's just a tremendous achievement. It's really gratifying," said Hazel.

All patients and staff will move over the end of October. They say it'll take a day or two to get oriented. The new facility can treat up to 250 patients.

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