DOJ Issues Second Compliance Report on Vermont State Hospital

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2007
Media Contact: Communication Office
Vermont Department of Health
802-863-7281

BURLINGTON – The second 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.

The report concludes that Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury has made significant progress since the first compliance visit in October 2006. The report also identified areas for continued improvement such as rehabilitation, treatment and documentation of care.

The second compliance visit was conducted in June 2007 by the two clinical experts (Dr. Mohamed El-Saabawi and Dr. Jeffrey L. Geller) appointed by the DOJ to assess the state’s ongoing efforts. A third compliance visit is scheduled for October 2007.

“The staff at Vermont State Hospital should be pleased with the outcomes so far. We are very committed to staying focused on the fact that this is an ongoing process and we need to sustain our efforts,” said Mental Health Commissioner Michael Hartman. “The investments the state has made in the facility are paying off, including improvements to the physical plant that have earned us praise during both compliance visits.”

The State of Vermont was noted for making significant progress in many areas including treatment planning, protecting patients from harm, incident management and quality improvement. Areas that were found as needing continued improvement included rehabilitation assessments, increasing patient participation in the discharge process, and adequate psychological rehabilitation services.

A report of findings and recommendations was first issued from the DOJ on July 5, 2005 following a three-day, on-site inspection by DOJ officials in September 2004.

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, as well as the state’s ongoing efforts to maintain and improve the quality of the care, treatment, and planning for discharge of patients.

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 DOJ reports are very important to us because it is a report on the ability and commitment of all Vermonters to address the needs of mentally ill persons,” Hartman said. “We will continue to move forward to assure that they have the care necessary for recovery and a successful return to employment, family and friends.”

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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