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Del. Sam Rasoul discusses the data in the Catawba Hospital Study

RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - Virginia lawmakers have received the first part of a report that considers the future of Catawba Hospital. And it appears to make a strong case for transforming the Roanoke County facility into a state-of-the-art campus with comprehensive substance abuse treatment and recovery services.

The study was commissioned by the state at the request of the General Assembly.

It traces the history of the property, first as a resort in the 19th century and later as a tuberculosis sanatorium, before its transition to behavioral health in the 1960s. And it documents the growing need for treatment of substance use disorder in our region.

“Geographically located at the epicenter of this growing crisis in Virginia,” the report says, “Catawba Hospital is poised to become a state-of-the-art facility for the treatment and recovery of people with this disease.”

“There is just a glaring need for more resources with regards to substance use disorder,” said Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke). “Some of the data here shows that there’s going to be a 37% increase in the need, so we will need residential treatment beds. We’ve got to be able to help the families who will be in need,” he said.

Rasoul was instrumental in proposing the study, and told WDBJ7 he is pleased with what he is hearing so far.

He said the study documents the need, shows how increased services for substance use disorder could free up resources for other mental health services, and demonstrates how Catawba Hospital could partner with local educational institutions to build a stronger workforce. And he said it could serve as a model for other facilities in the state.

“I’m optimistic, because working with the Governor’s administration, what we would like to do is build a state-of-the-art treatment center here that can be replicated all across the state, so this really could be the cutting edge for Virginia with regards to substance use disorder treatment,” Rasoul said.

The full study promises more analysis on the workforce, operational issues, public-private partnerships, and estimates of how much money the plan will require. And it could include recommendations for the General Assembly.

Del. Rasoul said he expects the final report to include what he describes as “ some exciting options.” And he anticipates a phased plan that would carry out the work over a period of years.

(Source: WDBJ7)


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