DBHDS Awards G4S Contract for Providing Alternative Transportation Services for Individuals Experiencing a Mental Health Crisis

Virginia Sheriffs’ Association has worked for years to address the burden faced by law enforcement because of temporary detention order (TDO) transports. This represents a milestone and will address this concern. Thank you General Assembly for funding this effort.

The Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) announced today that it will award G4S with a three-year contract for statewide alternative transportation services. These services will be provided for people experiencing a mental health crisis, who are under a temporary detention order (TDO), and who are clinically assessed to be appropriate for such transportation.

Alternative transportation will fundamentally change how children and adults under TDO are transported from the evaluation site to inpatient psychiatric treatment. Alternative transportation also has the benefit of alleviating burden on law enforcement, who are currently providing nearly all of the statewide transportation services of people under a TDO. Based on inpatient psychiatric bed availability, the roundtrip may take hours for the transporting officer. Law enforcement will continue to be valuable partners in this process and will transport individuals who do not meet criteria for alternative transportation due to safety concerns.

This is the first of what is likely to be many more communications on this topic from DBHDS. I wanted you to be aware of some initial information, including a basic overview of the services G4S will be providing, what the schedule is for rolling out this three-year program, and the process for implementation.

G4S Service Overview

G4S will be providing alternative transportation services using unarmed drivers wearing plain clothes, in secure, unmarked vehicles and with specially trained drivers. The result is a safe and secure transportation that is trauma informed and focused on the individuals’ recovery and engagement in treatment. G4S would provide alternative transportation to an estimated 50 percent of all TDOs in Virginia during the contract period. The new alternative transportation services will be available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. G4S has experience providing alternative transportation in other states. It will be implementing a regionally based transportation service throughout Virginia with state oversight and a workforce of providers specifically trained to provide this type of service to individuals in a behavioral health crisis.

Regional Partnerships and Process

As we all knew and was reinforced during the recent alternative transportation pilot process in the Southwestern region, alternative transportation’s success is hinged on a wide array of partnerships, from law enforcement, community services boards, magistrates/courts, private hospitals and others. Each region will need a work group with representatives from these groups to create a plan tailored to that region. DBHDS estimates at least 10 weeks of this type of planning and organizing is needed before transportation actually begins. DBHDS has already started working with CSBs in Region 3 and will be reaching out to each region to begin conversations about the next steps, including which stakeholders in your communities will be key partners, developing a focused strategy for engaging them, how to best identify champions who will help to drive this forward, and what resources/support will be needed from DBHDS to convene the work group and launch this process. In addition, each region will have a quality review process or council and DBHDS will collect and analyze data and trends to ensure the program is effective.

Schedule

This is a three-year process to be rolled out and completed by June 30, 2021. The plan is to implement an alternative transportation process region by region for adults first as outlined below and then to develop and implement a specialized processes for children and youth. The process will start immediately in Region 3 building on the success of the pilot program. The tentative regional sequence for rollout is below:

Adults

  • First rollout – Region 3
  • Second rollout – Region 1
  • Third rollout – Region 2
  • Fourth rollout – Region 5
  • Fifth rollout – Region 4

Children and Youth

When the rollout for adults is complete, we plan to begin the rollout for children and youth.

This new alternative transportation program is an exciting and significant step forward in how we treat people in crisis who need involuntary hospitalization. It alleviates the tremendous burden on law enforcement and greatly reduces current transportation practices that can intensify trauma and make people less likely to engage in future treatment. I am looking forward to working with you as we evolve our system to be more trauma informed and person-centered during one of the most high risk and high profile transitions in care.

Should you have additional questions or comments, please contact Gail Paysour at [email protected] or (804) 291-8011.

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