Gov. Peter Shumlin today announced that Mental Health Commissioner Christine Oliver and Deputy Secretary Patrick Flood will swap positions, with Oliver assuming the role of Deputy Secretary and Flood becoming Commissioner of Mental Health.
The job swap meets two imperatives. First, the announcement of the Governor's long-term plan for mental health services in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene and the closing of the Vermont State Hospital has created a legislative and strategic challenge for which Patrick Flood is uniquely qualified to address. Irene gave Vermont an opportunity to build the best integrated mental health delivery system in the nation, where quality care and patient needs come first.
Meanwhile, the Agency of Human Services is facing a host of unanticipated management challenges due to both Irene and federal budget cuts. Christine Oliver's extensive management and legal experience match well with the Agency's current needs.
While Oliver dealt with the immediate crisis after the emergency closure of the Vermont State Hospital following severe flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in late August, Flood focused on short-, medium- and long-term options for strengthening Vermont's mental health system statewide.
"Christine and Patrick have both done an extraordinary job under difficult conditions over the past year," Governor Shumlin said. "As I have worked closely with them in the wake of Irene, it has become clear to me that at this unique moment, Christine's background and talents are better suited to managing the Agency's overall work, while Patrick's legislative and state government experience make him best suited to helping realize my vision for creating a comprehensive, post-Irene mental health system."
Gov. Shumlin last week announced the following proposal for mental health delivery in Vermont:
Post Irene: Strengthening Mental Health Services for Vermonters
Pre-Irene: 54 state-operated beds (25-30 used for acute intensive care, the remainder were for patients awaiting discharge)
Cost: $22.5 million operating from General Fund budget annually.
New long term plan:
· 15 bed state managed facility in central Vermont -- can be expanded (Fletcher Allen will
provide 7 to 10 intensive inpatient beds while this facility is being constructed and staffed)
· 14 beds at Brattleboro Retreat
· 6 at Rutland Regional Medical Center
· Up to 5 beds secure residential on campus of Windsor Correctional Facility
Cost: $26.6 million in capital expenses (insurance policy/FEMA may cover some or all)
Additional community services:
· Step down beds (transitional beds as people move off acute care)
· Improved emergency services
· Improved individualized services
· Housing vouchers and peer services (people who have been patients who now are willing to run services for others -- hotline, beds any number of supports)
Cost: $16 million gross; $7 million General Fund; the remainder is federal matching funds
Total number of beds under this Post Irene plan: 70