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Nearby hospitals had room for Creigh Deeds's son on Monday

7:44 PM, Nov 20, 2013   |    comments
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FAIRFAX, Va. (WUSA9) -- Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds has been upgraded to good condition tonight at UVA Medical Center after his 24-year-old son allegedly stabbed his father and then shot and killed himself.

But there are questions about why the young Deeds was not admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

The first word that came out from the community services board that processed what's called an Emergency Custody Order for Gus Deeds on Monday, was that no psychiatric beds could be found. Now, word from three hospitals within two hours of the Deeds's Bath home, that they did have beds available.

Dennis Cropper, the executive director of the Rockbridge Community Service board, which processed an emergency custody order (ECO) on Gus Deeds Monday, told the Richmond Times Dispatch that Deeds was released because no beds could be found. Since then, three hospitals within two hours, say they did have beds.

The Rockbridge executive is not explaining what happened, but he did sent out a statement explaining the time constraints involved in finding a psychiatric bed while holding someone involuntarily.

It could be that the CBS staff simply ran of time to find the beds.
George Braunstein, the executive director of the Fairfax Community Services board says every community service board has had trouble finding beds at times.

"Last year, this Northern Virginia region, which is Fairfax, Loudoun, Alexandria, Arlington and Prince William, sent over 200 people to for hospitalizations to other parts of the state," said Braunstein.

A person cannot be held involuntarily any longer than six hours. During the ECO process, if its determined that the person is both mentally ill and a danger, a TDO, temporary detention order, can be sought. But before a psychiatric bed must be found before a magistrate can grant t TDO.

"If you run out of your six hour time period, the police say 'we cannot legally hold this person anymore," said Braunstein.
Whatever the reason, a local Fairfax County father who's son has also struggled with severe mental illness, says it's not easy to get treatment.

"I'm not a psychiatrist, but I've been through this a lot, to me it looks like a first break," said author Pete Earley who wrote the book Crazy about his son Kevin Earley's struggles with mental illness, and the dysfunctional treatment systems they encountered. He says he was not surprised by what happened to Senator Creigh Deeds and his son.

Kevin Earley, who is now 30 and doing well, remembers what happened after his father could not get him into a hospital.
"I was told I was not an imminent threat and then later on I ended up breaking into a stranger's house and destroying some property," said Kevin, adding that he is very sorry about what he did. .

When the police came, he finally was able to get into treatment. But the Earley's say it shouldn't have to take a criminal act or violence to get help.

Pete Earley said, "If you have a mental breakdown like my son had, you have to wait five to seven days to see a therapist. You have to wait six weeks to see a case manager...Can you imagine the outcry there would be if I told you in Fairfax County that if you had a heart attack you had to wait seven days before you got to see a doctor?"

It's unclear why Gus Deeds attacked his father, but Kevin can relate. He was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disease when he was about the same age as Gus Deeds.

"There were incidents in my life where I felt like I was seeing things in third person. Or it was a dream or it wasn't real...the greater the delusions become the harder it is to be tethered to societal norms or laws or normal behavior," said Kevin Earley.

But delusions weren't enough to get him hospitalized, explained Pete Earley, "The person who has a first break doesn't know what's going on and the family doesn't know what's going on. And then you have a system set up that says there has to be violence before we do anything. What do you expect?"

Kevin Earley has been stable for 6 years. He says it took accepting his disease and then being diligent about taking his medicine. He now is a peer support specialist for the Fairfax Falls Church Community Services board and helps others struggling with mental illness. 

Written by Peggy Fox

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