Legislators ponder future of Vermont psych hospital

Saturday June 22, 2013

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Vermont legislators are concerned about the future of the Brattleboro Retreat, the private psychiatric hospital that is now housing a number of patients that would have been housed ad the now-closed state hospital in Waterbury as the facility works to correct violations that could jeopardize its federal funding and certification.

Peter Albert, vice president for government relations, told members of the Mental Health Oversight Committee on Thursday the Retreat awaits a surprise inspection by federal regulators, which will occur by Aug. 15.

"This is incredibly serious and we are taking it incredibly seriously," Albert told the committee.

The psychiatric hospital has been treating patients for 179 years. It's provided the largest share of acute psychiatric care capacity to fill the gap created by the forced closure of the 54-bed Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury after flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in 2011 inundated the state office complex.

The panel spent much of its meeting receiving briefings on the state of the mental health system 11 months into a reorganization triggered by the closure of the state hospital, according to published reports.

Rep. Ann Pugh, D-South Burlington, asked if there were contingency plans in place in case the Retreat loses its federal certification.

Interim Mental Health Commissioner Frank Reed answered, "We are pulling a work group together."


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