State Hospital Report Praises Improvements

For Immediate Release: March 14, 2007
Contact: Communication Office
802-863-7281
 
BURLINGTON – The annual safety inspection of the Vermont State Hospital, initiated by the state and conducted by an independent Boston architectural firm, concluded that the hospital has made significant improvements to the facility that enhance safety and security for patients and staff. 

An original inspection was performed on February 21, 2006 by Graham/Meus Architects, Inc., with the second annual inspection conducted on February 5, 2007.

“Vermont State Hospital earned an A-plus for the work that was completed to address numerous safety, security and environmental conditions that were cited in a report we prepared last year,” said Gary L. Graham, a principal with Graham/Meus Architects.  “They took the report seriously, and were diligent in the work that was completed to improve the cited conditions at the Vermont State Hospital.”
 
The Douglas administration has invested substantial resources to improve the current facility, including more than $1 million in renovations and an additional 52 staff positions added to the facility during the past three years.

Governor Douglas is proposing an additional $2.1 million in FY 2008 for staffing improvements and facility renovations.

“The report clearly shows how comprehensively the State of Vermont is addressing issues that could affect the health and welfare of our patients and staff,” said Michael Hartman, deputy commissioner for Mental Health at the Vermont Department of Health.  “The report cites ‘extraordinary improvements’ and notes the care and commitment demonstrated to improve patient safety.  We know progress still needs to be made to address concerns cited by the Department of Justice, but this particular report is good news for Vermont.”

The inspection report released on March 12, 2007 reviewed design and construction issues at the three psychiatric units in the Brooks building at the Vermont State Hospital. The Brooks Building was built in 1938 and is licensed to house up to 54 psychiatric inpatients on three units.
 
Recommendations from the report were broken into three categories in order of priority: health, safety and welfare; patient management; and environmental enhancements.

An example of a structural improvement that improved the health, safety and welfare for patients was to correct the ability of a patient in a seclusion room to stay in a corner out of direct sight of staff. This problem was corrected by installing an impact-resistant mirror that eliminates the blind spot in the room.

A structural enhancement that improved patient management was replacing a solid door and partition with a glass door that improves the ability of the nurse’s station to observe the unit.  

Graham/Meus Inc. Architects has more than 35 years experience in the design of behavioral healthcare facilities, and has conducted environmental inspections for the past 10 years.

The remaining deficiencies identified in the report include the replacement of the all ceiling vents with wire mesh faceplates that remove the potential for contraband storage.  Many of the vents have been replaced but a few of the metal grill faceplates remain at the hospital. There were also some exposed pipes in supervised areas that will be enclosed. 

The report addresses other building issues, but these are related to structural issues of the aged building, and the ongoing need to have a new hospital facility.

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