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Chatham, VA: Residential autism center to expand; 'Heeding the call to increase access to services'

Jun 1, 2022, Chatham Star Tribune: Hughes Center breaks ground on new facility https://www.chathamstartribune.com/news/article_ef14b63c-e1a7-11ec-97a9-afa51ef2a173.html

It might have been hot and sweltering, but that didn’t stop many guests from attending a groundbreaking ceremony for the Hughes Center.

The center plans to build a 96-bed replacement facility that combines all the amenities into one building.

“Today we embark on a new, exciting chapter at the Hughes Center’s history,” said CEO Mark Howard. “As we lay the bricks and mortar, this is a milestone in our rich history of service.”


“The Hughes Center has a long history of serving children and adolescents for nearly 100 years with its beginnings as an orphanage in 1927 until it became the residential treatment facility we know today, specializing in the care and treatment of children and adolescents with autism and intellectual disabilities," he said. ...


“As we begin the construction of our state of the art 96 bed replacement facility, we are heeding the call to increase access to services for children and adolescents struggling with autism and intellectual disabilities throughout the Commonwealth and nationally,” he said.


“This project will increase our bed capacity for residential services by 50%. We will become an integral part of the continuum of care in Virginia by addressing the shortage of mental health services to the most vulnerable. This expansion is a key solution to the mental health challenges Virginia has faced in recent years. Our mission is to provide quality of life for individuals with autism and intellectual disabilities so they can achieve their fullest potential.”


Universal Health Services Inc. Senior Vice President of Behavioral Health Roz Hudson told a story of how she scheduled a visit to the Hughes Center for the first time. She said as a former special education teacher, she had expectations far exceeded....


Director of Member Engagement for the Danville/Pittsylvania County Christy Harper took her turn and called it a pleasure as she is a mother of special needs and is an advocate for families.


“Our region is fortunate to have access to a facility that provides a diverse range of services for this special population,” she said. “These services are valuable resources to students and families that are seeking quality of life for their loved ones that have intellectual disabilities and are known to be on the autism spectrum. Our chamber has been grateful for your investment for more than a century in this region.”


Harper shared a statement from President and CEO of the board of directors and chamber members Anne Moore-Sparks in closing, “We wish you another 100 plus years of success and amazing impact.”...


“We’re excited to finally get started on the groundbreaking of our new facility,” she started.


“Our current campus has served many purposes over the years. It has provided children and adolescents with specialized needs the opportunity to receive treatment and grow. There are many aspects that will deservingly be missed, however, we are very eager to have a facility that better supports the needs of our residents as well as our staff. It is truthfully an honor to be a part of their growth, development, success, education and treatment. We are excited to have a facility in the works that will support the residents development and will supply additional resources that our staff needs to ensure our residents harness their greatest potential.”


The facility is expected to be completed in March 2024.

Officials with the Hughes Center and the City of Danville pose after the groundbreaking ceremony.