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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Psychiatric Hospital Confident It Cleared Federal Inspection

A spokesman for the Brattleboro Retreat said federal inspectors unofficially cleared the hospital of any deficiencies during a recent inspection.

The federal agency that oversees Medicare and Medicaid finished a three-day survey at the Brattleboro Retreat on Wednesday.

The psychiatric hospital was in danger of losing federal funding if deficiencies identified in earlier inspections weren’t corrected by Nov. 15.

According to Retreat Senior Vice President Peter Albert, surveyors from The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) unofficially gave the hospital a thumbs-up.

“They had no findings,” Albert said. “And they said during the exit interview that they’ll be recommending to the Boston Regional CMS Office that the Retreat is in compliance with all conditions of participation. So we await the final approval from the Boston office.”

The Retreat was already dealing with violations when it was cited in July for involuntarily medicating and restraining an out-of-control patient. The incident ended when police were called in and the patient was shocked with an electronic stun gun.

The Medicare agency said that violated the patient’s rights.

The Retreat linked the incident to new challenges brought on by the arrival of patients who would have gone to the now-closed Vermont State Hospital in Waterbury. The state invested heavily in a new unit for those patients at the Retreat as part of a new, decentralized mental health system.

Albert said the new, often involuntary, patient population has required different approaches and new training for Retreat staff.

“So you always have to be willing to challenge yourself and get better,” he said. “And that’s what people here have been doing, and we’re just very proud of them.”

The federal agency’s formal findings are expected within the next 10 days.

Susan Keese was VPR's southern Vermont reporter, based at the VPR studio in Manchester at Burr & Burton Academy. After many years as a print journalist and magazine writer, Susan started producing stories for VPR in 2002. From 2007-2009, she worked as a producer, helping to launch the noontime show Vermont Edition. Susan has won numerous journalism awards, including two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for her reporting on VPR. She wrote a column for the Sunday Rutland Herald and Barre-Montpelier Times Argus. Her work has appeared in Vermont Life, the Boston Globe Magazine, The New York Times and other publications, as well as on NPR.
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