Police locate mentally ill patient who escaped psychiatric center

Psych patient escapes from hospital in Virginia Beach

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WVEC) – Authorities tell us that a psychiatric patient who escaped from the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center has been located and is okay.

Police said officers received a call in the afternoon July 4 to help find a patient who left Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center without permission.

The search went on for nearly three days before the patient was found. Police haven't said where they located the patient.

Neighbors who live near the hospital at 1100 First Colonial Road told 13News Now they are upset with the Virginia Beach Police Department because it did not notify people in the community about the search.

“It’s a little frightening,” said one neighbor who did not want to be identified.

A "Be on the lookout" call, or BOLO, went out to police officers. Scanner traffic told them they should use caution if they encountered the patient who had schizoaffective disorder. The advisory also said there should be a “minimum of two officers to handle the individual.”

Master Police Officer Linda Kuehn told 13News Now that the patient had a run-in with officers last month. Kuehn wouldn’t go into details about the encounter, but she said no criminal charges were filed.

“There was no indication he was going to hurt anybody,” said Kuehn who explained the reason why no notification about his escape went out. 

A nearby resident who found out about the search on Facebook said neighbors should have been in the loop.

“I was wondering why we didn’t get a reverse 9-1-1 call? We get it for other things like rabid skunks,” said the woman who in now scared for her safety. “My neighbors were saying they had no idea. They should have been able to know.”

HIPAA laws restrict patient information from being released, but neighbors said safety is top priority.

“If he wasn’t dangerous, then why were they putting out BOLO’s every fifteen minutes on the police radio?” “[Police] wouldn’t approach him singularly, so I wouldn’t want to bump into him walking my dog.”

Kuehn said the BOLO call still is active, but the department's search for the patient has ended.

13News Now asked the accreditation for a history of the facility and was given this link

The CEO of the hospital, Jennifer Kelly, responded to 13News Now’s request for comment with the following statement:

The care and safety of our patients, including their privacy, is Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center’s top priority.  Due to stringent patient confidentiality and privacy laws, the facility is precluded from discussing any details regarding the care and treatment of any patient.

The management and staff of Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center remain fully dedicated and committed to its mission of providing high quality treatment programs and services to patients with special, and sometimes complex, mental health needs.
 

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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