U.S. senator Tim Kaine and Congressman Bobby Scott celebrated $1 million in federal funding to go toward Chesapeake Regional Medical Center’s first inpatient mental health facility.

Chesapeake Regional needs $18 million to create a 20-bed psych unit. The hospital plans to use money from federal, state and local governments.

Kaine said the need for acute mental health care is greater than ever.

“We were short of behavioral health before COVID. We were short of providers before COVID… and COVID made virtually everything much tougher,” Kaine said.

Chesapeake Regional President and CEO Reese Jackson said Chesapeake’s need has only grown since they announced the project early last year.

“I have been preaching to the choir at this point, but we are the second largest city in the Commonwealth now — with greater numbers than Norfolk now. And we have no beds,” he said.

“And in fact, I asked this morning how many patients were in our (emergency room) today waiting for beds, and there were ten. That was this morning. Sometimes there are 15 or more.”