Skip to main content
Centra In The News

Innovation close to home, 6 months of EmPATH

Published on Tuesday March 5, 2024
Empath Facility_Empty

Six months of success at Centra's EmPATH Unit

On September 12, 2023, Centra celebrated the grand opening of the Emergency Psychiatric Assessment Treatment and Healing (EmPATH) Unit located at Lynchburg General Hospital. The unique space, which is the first of its kind in Virginia, serves as an extension of the emergency department that caters specifically to patients in mental health crises.

Now six months after its opening, the positive effects of the unit are beginning to become evident. Centra’s Psychiatric and Behavioral Health Teams have seen a reduction in admits to the Adult Psychiatric Inpatient Unit and because of this, they have been able to admit sicker patients from across the commonwealth who are in need of psychiatric care.

Additionally, the average length of stay within the EmPATH Unit is only 14 hours and 75% of patients are able to be discharged from EmPATH instead of being admitted to an inpatient unit. This number stands in stark contrast to prior numbers. Before EmPATH opened, only 36.3% of psychiatric patients were able to be discharged from the emergency department without being admitted.

Thoughtfully designed to facilitate socialization, interaction and movement among psychiatric and behavioral health patients, the unit has also helped to reduce the length of stay for behavioral health patients in the emergency department by an average of 4.72 hours.

However, the care for patients who are admitted to EmPATH doesn’t stop after they leave the unit. Every patient is provided with a discharge plan which often involves community resources and support that extends beyond the walls of the hospital. 

Ultimately, the EmPATH Model prioritizes patient-centered care, something that Shannon Miles the Senior Director of Nursing Operations for Psychiatry and Behavioral Health believes should be replicated across the country, stating, “We have seen patients come in very sick with their mental health issues and within hours they are comfortable, smiling and communicating their needs.” She went on to explain that being admitted to an inpatient psych unit can be traumatic, but EmPATH helps prevent this while still allowing patients to get the help they need which is truly life changing.

As we celebrate six months of success, the EmPATH Unit serves as an example of innovation and compassion, embodying Centra's commitment to advancing health and healing for behavioral health patients.