Approval Process to Replace Vermont State Hospital Begins

For Immediate Release: June 19, 2006
Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The Vermont Department of Health Division of Mental Health filed a Letter of Intent today with the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration (BISHCA) as the first formal step in gaining approval for conceptual plans to develop a new clinical facility at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, and enhancements at Rutland Regional Medical Center and the Brattleboro Retreat.

The new programs would replace inpatient services currently provided by the Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury.

Last year, the State of Vermont accepted the recommendation of the Vermont State Hospital Futures Advisory Committee to locate the primary new acute care facility at Fletcher Allen.  Acute inpatient psychiatric care would be integrated with other inpatient care services to reduce the stigma and isolation currently associated with adults suffering from severe mental illness.

The Conceptual Certificate Of Need (CON) will seek authorization to proceed with detailed planning for an array of new inpatient services.

“The plan is designed - first and foremost - to improve clinical care for patients who would benefit from the high standards for inpatient care provided by Vermont’s leading academic medical center,” said Paul Blake, Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Mental Health for the Vermont Department of Health. “The plan would more fully integrate mental health services into the state’s health care system.”

Benefits for patients would include closer proximity to specialists, rapid expert medical response in the event of emergencies, and less disruption of treatment continuity

A Letter of Intent must be submitted to BISHCA prior to the filing of a Conceptual CON application.

Approval of a Conceptual CON - also known as phase one of the state’s two-step approval process - is required for projects estimated to cost more than $20 million before extensive work can take place. The results of that work would be submitted for a CON review and approval in phase two.

Preliminary work has been done for the state by Architecture Plus, an architectural group, and by Milliman, Inc., an actuarial firm engaged to verify estimates of bed capacity that will be needed.

In the letter, Beth Tanzman, Futures Project Director, outlined the general scope of the project. In phase one, project costs are not the primary focus of the state’s review. Phase one is intended to provide feedback to the applicant about the scope of the proposed project before the bulk of the architectural and planning work is undertaken. This detailed information is needed to accurately determine costs, which will be reviewed in phase two.

VDH expects to submit the conceptual CON application on or before August 31, 2006. The phase one approval process for this application is anticipated to take three to nine months. The completion of the new inpatient facility is expected to take six years.

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