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Centra Begins Construction on Virginia’s First emPATH Unit

Published on Monday October 24, 2022
Groundbreaking Empath

The donor that made this possible was appreciative of the excellent care they received at Centra and wanted to help address the greatest needs. The person expressed an interest in emergency medicine and behavioral health services, which aligned perfectly with our needs and the needs of our communities. The generous gift is the largest single outright anonymous donation and among the largest gifts ever received by the Centra Foundation.

According to Centra’s most recent Community Health Needs Assessment, which was conducted in 2021, mental health is among the top concerns affecting the communities of central Virginia. Over the past decade, emergency departments across the country have seen an increase in patients who are seeking care for acute psychiatric conditions. This has meant an increased strain on resources. Because of this expanded need, growth of holistic behavioral health services is part of Centra’s new strategic plan.

What Does EmPATH stand for?

EmPATH stands for Emergency Psychiatric Assessment, Treatment and Healing. The model of care helps people experiencing a behavioral health crisis receive compassionate, holistic care in a comfortable, open space that promotes healing. EmPATH is expected to become a national best practice. Outcomes at hospitals where it has been implemented include calmer patients, reduced time spent in the Emergency Department (ED) and reduced re-admissions, more resources for physical emergencies, improved patient experiences and safer EDs for everyone.

Behavioral health patients in crisis receive a quicker evaluation, faster access to behavioral health experts, care in a more comfortable environment that eliminates isolation and an aftercare plan. At Centra, the project is a collaboration between Emergency Services and Psychiatry & Behavioral Health. The unit will be part of Centra Lynchburg General Hospital’s Emergency Department and is scheduled to open in 2023.

How Is Centra Foundation Supporting The Project?

In addition to the anonymous gift, the Foundation has committed to funding an additional $3.5 million for construction of the emPATH Unit and first-year operating expenses. The expenses will be covered by gifts to the Greatest Need Fund. The fund, which anyone can contribute to, helps Centra respond quickly to emergent needs and provide excellent care, regardless of patients’ ability to pay. Ten percent of unrestricted employee gifts to the fund also support Centra’s Helping Hands Program, which assists Caregivers in times of acute, unexpected need. Since it was established in 1993, the Centra Foundation has provided more than $93 million in support of programs for patients and Caregivers, funded life-saving screenings and treatments, and impacted local health. For more information, visit the Centra Foundation’s website.

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