In a historic step forward in the State's treatment of acute mental illness, Gov. Peter Shumlin today cut the ribbon on the new 25 bed state-of-the-art Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital (VPCH).
The opening of the VPCH is the capstone of a decentralized 45 bed continuum of inpatient services, with partner hospitals Rutland Regional Medical Center and Brattleboro Retreat, for all Vermonters with acute mental health treatment needs.
"This facility has been a long time coming. Finally we can truly say Vermont is protecting and caring for some of our most vulnerable neighbors in an efficient, high-quality building, and appropriately treating mental illness like any other disease," Gov. Shumlin said. The Governor also noted that the new hospital was funded with significant federal financial support, saving Vermont money.
"We congratulate Governor Shumlin and the many agencies and partners on the opening of this state-of-the-art mental health facility," Vermont's Congressional Delegation said.
"We are pleased to have supported the state's successful efforts to secure significant federal funds which, with the opening of the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital, are helping rebuild the State's mental health care system, and helping to better serve Vermonters," said Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch.
The State has been working since 2005 to site a new psychiatric hospital. In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene severely damaged the antiquated Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury and forced the State to expedite the siting process. As part of that work, the Administration and the Legislature chose to direct the planning towards a more distributed model of delivering mental health services to provide care closer to the homes of patients.
The closing of the VSH placed a tremendous amount of pressure on the State's ability to provide timely mental health inpatient care for people and on local community providers. In an effort to relieve these pressures, the State implemented a number of options, including six "no refusal' beds at Rutland Regional Medical Center, 14 beds at Brattleboro Retreat Health Care, eight temporary beds in Morrisville (these will be closed upon the opening of the Berlin Facility), and seven secure residential beds in a temporary facility in Middlesex.
In keeping with the belief that mental health recovery truly occurs in our communities, the new hospital will serve the most acutely ill while they need this level of care. The progress already made, and still to be made through new programs coming on line in the next year, will offer step-down and alternative community-based program options for individuals who need additional transition re-entry services through these alternative programs.
The project cost is $28.5 million. Insurance is expected to pay $3.5 million; the FEMA share is $12.5 million; and the State share is $12.4 million.
"This hospital, designed with input from multiple stakeholder groups, promotes a recovery-oriented treatment environment that we can genuinely say we are all proud of, should its services be needed at any point in time by our friends, our family members, or our neighbors," said Mental Health Commissioner Paul Dupre "This is a recognition that acute mental health treatment will be provided to any individual in need of psychiatric hospitalization in a setting that is comparable with other physical healthcare settings."