For Immediate Release: July 21, 2006
Contact: Communication Office
BURLINGTON - A settlement agreement between the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the State of Vermont filed today in the United States District Court is designed to remedy problems DOJ identified at the Vermont State Hospital in September 2004.
"The agreement clearly acknowledges the continuing spirit of cooperation between the State of Vermont and the Department of Justice," said Paul Blake, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Division of Mental Health. "We have worked hard to remedy the problems identified during the DOJ inspection two years ago, and we are fully committed to doing everything we can to continue to improve the quality of care for our patients."
The Douglas Administration has increased funding, increased staffing, and won legislative approval for increased support for both the facility and the employees at Vermont State Hospital. The Administration made safety and other improvements to the facility, and instituted a variety of incentives designed to assist with staff recruitment and retaining valuable employees, some of whom have devoted their lives to caring for patients 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 settlement agreement includes a Memorandum of Agreement setting forth the required changes that VSH must make to correct conditions and practices that may have violated the DOJ standards, and the appointment of two clinical experts, DOJ, Dr. Mohamed El-Saabawi and Dr. Jeffrey Geller, to monitor Vermont's efforts.
Over a four-year period, Dr. El-Saabawi and Dr. Geller, along with DOJ attorneys, will regularly assess the state's ongoing efforts to maintain and improve the safety of the physical environment, and will assess the state's ongoing efforts to maintain and improve the quality of the care, treatment, and planning for discharge that are provided for each individual patient.
The Department of Justice Complaint and Memorandum of Agreement is posted on the Health Department's website at http://healthvermont.gov.