MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — A top official at a private psychiatric hospital taking state patients promised improvements Tuesday as lawmakers reviewed a series of deficiencies reported by a federal agency.
Peter Albert, vice president for government affairs at the Brattleboro Retreat, briefed members of the House Human Services Committee on a series of deficiencies reported March 11 after a state inspection done at the behest of the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
That came after a series of complaints by patients at the Retreat, where the state has been sending some of its most acutely mentally ill patients since the former Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury was forced to close due to flooding from Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011.
Albert said the Brattleboro facility was not in danger of following Waterbury in losing federal certification. The Waterbury hospital had been without it for about a decade, costing the state about $8 million a year in lost federal matching funds under the Medicaid program.
"We are not on an immediate jeopardy or termination track, but I do not want to minimize in any way the level of seriousness of the work that we need to do," Albert told the committee.
A March 11 letter from CMS to Retreat CEO Robert Simpson said the "deficiencies have been determined to be of such a serious nature as to substantially limit your facility's capacity to render adequate care" and be in compliance with regulations.
Recent incidents covered in the report that resulted in the deficiencies included a patient who reported having sex with another patient, and wanted immediate follow-up treatment. The patient asked for "a specific medical intervention" the morning after the incident, but was not seen until the afternoon.
The inspection report said the patient reported "increasing fear that because of the delay in time, the medical intervention s/he had requested would not be effective."