Blacksburg mental health agency squeezed by sequestration - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Blacksburg mental health agency squeezed by sequestration

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Mental health leaders in the New River Valley are working to minimize the impact of federal spending cuts. New River Valley Community Services in Blacksburg laid off eight employees last week and also merged a handful of services into two larger departments.

"We feel like the decisions that we've made although they were difficult have put us in a position to address pending fiscal considerations that we're up against and makes us a stronger agency moving forward," said Mike Wade.

Leaders say rising healthcare costs, sequestration, and a reduction in federal reimbursements were the main reason for scaling back.

"We are going to see losses in funding for federal block grants for both mental health and substance abuse services," said Wade.

What was formerly known as Adult and Family Services, is now Adult Recovery and Habilitation Services and what was Child & Family Services, is now Crisis and Family Services.

Delegate Joseph Yost, who earlier this year was appointed to the Governor's Task Force on School and Campus Safety, because of his extensive background in the mental health arena, says he hopes every dollar saved go back into client services.

"I know our local community action, even our public schools are facing all these cuts that are coming down from sequestration, but I feel very positive that they'll keep their eye on the ball when it comes to patient services, and I think it's very important that we continue to do that," said Yost.

Leaders at NRVCS also plan to keep their focus squarely on the patients. No additional layoffs are expected in the immediate future.

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