August 2022 – Colonial Behavioral Health – Observer Corps Report

Colonial Behavioral Health (CBH) – Board of Directors Meeting August 2, 2022

LWV-WA Observer Report from Patricia Black-Evers


CBH Crisis Services

CBH would like to expand their Crisis Services to include a Crisis Receiving Center with 23-hour Crisis Stabilization beds and a Mobile Crisis Team. The DBHDS doesn’t currently have funds to support this initiative, but CBH feels it will be worthy of their advocacy in the 2023 General Assembly.

Williamsburg Health Foundation (WHF)

WHF has agreed to work with CBH and the Community Access Network (CAN- Lynchburg VA) to develop a healthcare system in the Williamsburg that would integrate advanced primary care, behavioral health and social supports, i.e. Integrated Care.

Eastern State Hospital

No updates on plans for the Eastern State surplus property.

Behavioral Health Court Dockets

CBH is planning to work with the state to develop a local Behavioral Health Court Docket.

(Note:  “Behavioral Health Dockets are specialized criminal court dockets within the existing structure of Virginia’s court system that employ evidence-based practices to diagnose mental illness and provide appropriate treatment, enhance public safety, reduce recidivism, ensure offender accountability, and promote offender rehabilitation in the community” (see


Filling direct care positions continues to be a challenge. Most openings are in Developmental Services. There are currently 27 open positions. Eastern State is a hiring competitor facing similar challenges. DBHDS is advocating for legislation to declare a public health emergency in Virginia with respect to behavioral health hiring.

988 Suicide Prevention Lifeline

On 7/13/22 Virginia as part of a nationwide effort, transitioned to 988, a simple three-digit hotline for mental health emergencies. The new number replaced the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a longer — and harder to remember — 800 number that connected to a patchwork of local call centers across the country.

The centralized number is intended to streamline the current call-in process, making it far more likely that people will reach a responder on the first dial. There are currently two 988 call centers in Virginia and they report handling 90% of the calls within the call center, without referring to another resource. Unlike 911, 988 currently cannot identify a caller’s location which is even more problematic if the call is lost, but it is hoped that this glitch will soon be corrected.

Marcus Alert System

Marcus Alert resulted from legislation passed in the 2020 General Assembly that would provide enhanced services for people experiencing a crisis related to mental health, substance use, or developmental disability. Marcus Alert creates coordination between 911 and regional crisis call centers and establishes a specialized behavioral health response from law enforcement when responding to a behavioral health CBH formed an implementation work group in early 2022 with representatives from York County, James City County, Williamsburg, and Poquoson. Due to the magnitude of the project, it was determined that a dedicated Marcus Alert Coordinator was needed to launch the program, but they have not been able to find anyone to facilitate the planning.