DOJ Issues Report on Vermont State Hospital

For Immediate Release: February 6, 2007

Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The first compliance report by United States Department of Justice (DOJ) inspectors was released today as part of an agreement between the DOJ and the State of Vermont that is designed to remedy problems identified at the Vermont State Hospital in September 2004.

Two clinical experts, Dr. El-Saabawi and Dr. Geller, were appointed by the DOJ to assess the state’s ongoing efforts to maintain and improve the quality of treatment and care for patients at Vermont State Hospital.

The report both criticized and praised the State of Vermont for progress made based on a three-day site visit completed by DOJ in October 2006.

“We recognize we still have many challenges, however, our strong commitment to remedy problems identified by these assessments continues to guide our work to upgrade and improve the overall quality of care at the facility,” said Michael Hartman, deputy commissioner for Mental Health for the Vermont Department of Health. “We welcome the technical assistance that DOJ’s clinical experts are providing Vermont State Hospital staff and leaders as we work to improve the quality of care, treatment and discharge planning for patients.”

The report recognized progress and compliance in several areas including the development of alternatives to inpatient care using community settings, and significant physical improvements to the facility.

The report also documents deficiencies in areas including ongoing assessment of patients’ mental and physical health, providing appropriate treatment and therapy, and planning for the successful transition of patients back into the community.

The Douglas Administration has steadily sought to improve the quality of care at the Vermont State Hospital and to advance plans for a new facility. The state signed a multi-year clinical services contract with Fletcher Allen Health Care, the state’s largest hospital, in June 2005 to correct clinical care system deficiencies.

The settlement agreement between the State of Vermont and DOJ includes a Memorandum of Agreement that set forth the required changes that VSH must make to correct conditions and practices that may have violated DOJ regulations.
The Department of Justice assessment report is posted on the Health Department’s website at: http://healthvermont.gov/mh/programs/hospital/index.aspx

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