Central State Hospital is seeing uptick in medical emergencies

Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County is seeing a recent spike in medical emergencies.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:22 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County is seeing a recent spike in medical emergencies.

The psychiatric hospital is now on track to break a record for the number of medical emergencies over the last six years.

That’s according to data from the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services, which oversees Central State Hospital.

VDBHDS Spokesperson Lauren Cunningham says a medical emergency can involve any hospital alert staff use to call for assistance.

The situation can range from a minor injury to an emergency requiring EMS response.

Data obtained by NBC12 from VDBHDS shows the number of medical emergencies dating back to 2017. There were 19 medical emergencies in 2019. That number drops to five in 2021 but rises in 2022 when Central State saw 49 medical emergencies.

There’s been 52 such incidents in 2023 so far.

NBC12 asked VDBHDS for an interview, which they declined, but they did provide a statement.

The department did acknowledge Central State’s emergency calls have increased for various reasons.

“The number of internal 10-60 calls was lower from early 2020 through the beginning of 2022 because patients were staying in the same area of the building with medical staff already present due to COVID precautions. During 2022 and 2023, there were four patients with psychiatric conditions that manifested as medical complications. Calls related to these four individuals comprised 79% of the 10-60 calls in 2022 and 52% of the 10-60 calls in 2023 thus far. With increased freedom to move around the services setting due to decreased COVID precautions, medical staff and patients are no longer always in the same area. This, combined with calls related to the four particular patients, has led to an increase in the number of internal 10-60 calls,” Department Spokesperson Lauren Cunningham said.

Cunningham says 10-60 radio calls are an internal hospital alert used by staff to call for assistance from the hospital’s medical staff whenever needed, whether for a minor injury or a medical emergency requiring EMS assistance.

Cunningham adds staff are instructed to respond to all calls as if a medical emergency exists, but the vast majority of calls are not for a life-threatening reason and do not require EMS assistance.

Other records requested by NBC12 show a total of 19 patients died between 2017 and 2023, and four of those deaths happened this year.

One of them died after being discharged from the hospital.

Virginia State Police is investigating one of the most recent deaths, 19-year-old Tramil Brown, who died on July 20, 2023.

Police aren’t releasing much information currently as this is an ongoing investigation.

Brown’s mother, Tonya Brown, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that her son was found dead in his bed, where he’d been lying unattended for 45 minutes. She also said her son, who was in custody for a first-degree murder charge, was in good health.

Public court records confirm that Tramil Brown was charged with first-degree murder back in 2021.

NBC12 contacted Brown’s attorney, Sara Gaborik, who has not responded.

This comes amid a high-profile death of 28-year-old Irvo Otieno, who died while in custody during the intake process at Central State Hospital.

Otieno died in March 2023.