Health Briefs

Brattleboro Area Hospice to partner with United Church of Bellows Falls

BELLOWS FALLS >> Brattleboro Area Hospice, in partnership with the United Church of Bellows Falls-UCC, will offer a six month bereavement support group for adults beginning on March 22. The group will meet monthly at noon on the fourth Tuesday of each month for six months. This service is free of charge and open to anyone in the community grieving the death loss of a loved one, regardless of when or where the loss occurred.

Bereavement Support Groups offer a safe, mutually supportive environment for sharing experiences through discussion, readings, simple activities, and suggestions for moving through grief. This group will meet at the United Church of Bellows Falls, at 8 School Street in Bellows Falls. No prior connection with hospice is necessary in order to participate. The group size is limited to eight people. Please contact Rev. Alison Andrea Jacobs, at 802-463-4323 or at if you're interested in joining.

Brattleboro Area Hospice is an independent, community-based, non-profit volunteer organization that provides grassroots, volunteer-staffed programs to supplement and provide alternatives to the professional services utilized by dying and grieving community members. Hospice is locally funded and provides services free of charge. The Brattleboro Area Hospice office is located at 191 Canal Street in Brattleboro. Services are also offered off site in Bellows Falls. For more information about Brattleboro Hospice call 802-257-0775 or 802-460-1142 local to Bellows Falls. Visit

Guiding Good Choices parenting series for parents and caregivers

BRATTLEBORO >> Are you a parent or caregiver of an older youth or teen? You are invited to upcoming parenting classes, Guiding Good Choices (4th to 8th grade) for parents and caregivers free of cost.

Guiding Good Choices is an interactive five session course (two hour long sessions) for parents and caregivers of 4th through 8th grade children. The course provides tools and strategies to meet the challenges of guiding your child through adolescence including setting set clear guidelines controlling and expressing anger constructively, and preparing kids with "refusal" skills.

The series will be facilitated by David Petrie and Nancy Goodhue on Tuesdays March 15 to April 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.m at Brattleboro Area Middle School (109 Sunny Acres). Dinner is included and childcare is offered upon request. Register by March 10. For more information or to register, visit or contact 802-257-2175.

These parenting series are sponsored by a Vermont Department of Health Partners for Success grant and offered in partnership with Windham County prevention coalitions — Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition, The Collaborative, Deerfield Valley Community Partnership, Greater Falls Connections, and West River Thrives; as well as a Vermont Department of Education Grant in partnership with Windham Southeast Supervisory Union.

Brattleboro Retreat ranked 12th largest mental health provider in U.S.

BRATTLEBORO >> Modern Healthcare magazine has ranked the Brattleboro Retreat as 12th on its 2016 list of the 15 largest private behavioral health providers in the United States. The rankings are reflective of patient revenue in 2014 based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hospital data. The Brattleboro Retreat is a not-for-profit organization that had a $62.4 million budget in 2014.

In 2014, the year the Retreat first appeared in the Modern Healthcare rankings, the Retreat came in at 14th (based on 2012 CMS hospital data), and in 2015 the Retreat was 13th based on CMS numbers for 2013.

"The rankings clearly demonstrate the Retreat's continued growth," said Louis Josephson, president and chief executive officer. "But more important is the fact that we are finding ways to reach out and provide critical services to individuals whose needs might otherwise go unmet."

The Retreat has accomplished this, in part, by launching several specialty programs since 2009 designed to serve distinct patient populations. These include a program for men and women in uniform (police, fire, military, etc.) who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other duty-related problems; a 15-bed inpatient program for adults who identify as LGBT; and a 14-bed inpatient program designed to meet the unique needs of "emerging adults" ages 18 to 26.

In March 2013, the Retreat partnered with the Vermont Department of Mental Health, which funded the construction of a 14-bed, state-of-the art unit to provide care for patients displaced from the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury following Tropical Storm Irene.

The Retreat has also invested more than $10 million in capital improvements in recent years that have resulted in a variety of important upgrades including a complete remodel of the hospital's 12-bed Children's Inpatient unit; construction of a secure outdoor courtyard for patients; a fully modernized pharmacy; an electronic health record; a complete cafeteria remodel; new roofing on the administration and adjacent buildings; and new patient activity areas designed for relaxation, exercise, and creative pursuits.

In 2015, the Retreat was staffed for 122 inpatient beds, which represented an increase of 72 beds over 2006. In terms of patients served, the Retreat had approximately 4,000 inpatient admissions in 2015 and approximately 6,000 individuals total were served in combined inpatient and outpatient programs. By contrast, in 2006, inpatient admissions were slightly under 2,000.

This growth has resulted in a doubling of the hospital's workforce since 2007 with more than 900 employees now on the payroll.

The Brattleboro Retreat, founded in 1834, is a not-for-profit, regional specialty psychiatric hospital and addictions treatment center, providing a full range of diagnostic, therapeutic and rehabilitation services for individuals of all ages and their families. Recognized as a national leader in the treatment mental illness and addiction, the Brattleboro Retreat offers a high quality, individualized, comprehensive continuum of care including inpatient, partial hospitalization, residential and outpatient treatment.

Mental Health organizations to gather for Mental Health Advocacy Day

MONTPELIER >> The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont, Vermont Care Partners and the Vermont Association for Mental Health and Addiction Recovery will lead a gathering of stakeholders in Vermont's mental health system of care, to call on Vermont legislators to protect and improve mental health care funding on Wednesday, March 17, at the Statehouse. Mental Health Advocacy Day will include opportunities to interact with legislators, hear from state mental health leaders, and listen to shared stories from individuals with lived experience of mental illness. Mental Health Advocacy Day's theme is to "Improve Funding to Ensure Access."

Mental health budgets are being compromised and undermined on a host of issues this legislative session — from group therapy Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts, to proposed changes to involuntary treatment and medication laws, to marijuana legalization and public funding for vulnerable Vermonters. "Mental health funding must be a higher priority in Vermont," said Laurie Emerson, NAMI Vermont's executive director. "The lives of some of our most vulnerable citizens are literally at stake. While health care costs continue to rise, the need for mental health care has also increased and we must improve funding to ensure access to mental health services."

In Vermont approximately 23,000 adults and 6,000 children and teenagers face serious mental illness. People living with mental illness can lead fulfilling, productive lives, but only with access to treatment. Both access to treatment, and the philosophy of patient-centered care, will deteriorate if continually underfunded. Medicaid reimbursement rate cuts are already affecting the state's community-based providers.

"Access to and quality of treatment is compromised by rapid staff turnover and vacancies. Hundreds of Vermonters are on waiting lists because of staff vacancies," said Julie Tessler of Vermont Care Partners, which represents the designated community mental health and developmental disability agencies. NAMI Vermont, Vermont Care Partners and VAMHAR all call for Medicaid reimbursement rates that will improve, rather than diminish, access to mental health services.

"The agencies are experiencing a significant staffing crisis, as they are unable to keep up with salaries offered outside of the agency system," said VAMHAR's Peter Mallary.

Funding for and access to mental health services are more important now than ever. NAMI Vermont, Vermont Care Partners, and VAMHAR, along with 33 other organizations representing the state's mental health stakeholders will gather on March 17 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. to call on the legislature to improve funding to ensure access.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Vermont is a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of Vermont individuals and families affected by mental illness. The Vermont Association for Mental Health & Addiction Recovery is a statewide information and advocacy organization that supports all paths to recovery from addiction and mental health conditions. Vermont Care Partners is an organization representing 16 non-profit community-based agencies that provide developmental, mental health and substance abuse services to Vermonters.


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