US DOJ Inspectors Issue Third Compliance Report on Vermont State Hospital as part of Memorandum of Agreement

For Immediate Release: Dec. 10, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The third compliance report by United States Department of Justice (DOJ) inspectors of Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury was released today as part of an agreement between the DOJ and the State of Vermont.

The report concludes that there continues to be significant progress in the areas of rehabilitation, treatment and patient-centered care. The report also compliments the staff of VSH at all levels, saying they should be pleased with the outcomes of their efforts to date.

“This visit is continuing evidence that the efforts by the hospital leadership and hospital staff to meet and exceed standards of care for the severely mentally ill are achieving very positive results,” said Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hartman. “We understand, however, that this is an ongoing process and we value and appreciate the DOJ guidance and thorough review.”

The report also identified areas for continued improvement and corrective measures that may require additional training such as patient assessment and refining how incidents at the facility are reported and managed.

Over a four-year period, the DOJ will regularly assess the Vermont State Hospital, including compliance visits every six months. The first compliance visit was conducted in October 2006, the second in June 2007, and the third completed in October 2007. A fourth visit is scheduled for March 2008.

The visits were conducted by two clinical experts (Dr. Mohamed El-Saabawi and Dr. Jeffrey L. Geller), who were appointed by the DOJ to assess the state’s ongoing efforts.

Since the first report of findings by DOJ in 2005, the Douglas Administration has substantially increased funding, increased staffing, and increased support for both the facility and the employees at Vermont State Hospital. The state also signed a multi-year clinical services contract with Fletcher Allen Health Care, the state’s largest hospital, in June 2005 to enhance clinical care, treatment, recovery and quality assurance.

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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