Even before flooding from Tropical Storm Irene forced the closure of Vermont State Hospital last year, the state’s mental health system was in desperate need of attention. This week, Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law plans for an overhaul that marks the “end of an outdated, broken system.”
"This is a landmark moment for our state, ending years of dead-end discussions about how best to serve our friends, family members and neighbors with mental health conditions," Shumlin said. "We will no longer rely on a decrepit hospital to house those patients, but instead provide all levels of care in a variety of settings closer to their homes and communities.”
Shumlin and other officials characterized the new system as one that will “rely less on a central hospital with locked wards and more on smaller, less secure housing units for patients deemed fit to be cared for there,” according to a story from the Associated Press.
The law, which calls for Vermont to increase spending on its community mental health system by about $20 million a year, also requires a new state hospital to be built in the next two to three years.
Housing between 16 and 25 patients, the new hospital is currently estimated to cost $1 million per bed to build, and $500,000 a year per bed to operate.
Coverage from the press conference can be viewed below.