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Justice Dept Settles Civil Rights Suit Over Psych Hospital Conditions
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 24, 2006

WATERBURY, VERMONT--The State of Vermont has agreed to change how it handles patients at Vermont State Hospital in order to settle a civil rights lawsuit with the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Friday that the state agreed to implement reforms to make sure the facility's 50 or so patients are protected from harm and are provided adequate services.

DOJ filed the federal lawsuit after finding in 2004 that VSH failed to protect patients from suicide hazards; provide adequate psychological and psychiatric services; and ensure adequate discharge planning and placement in the most appropriate, integrated setting. It also found that staff used restraints and seclusion too often and mostly to give staff relief while punishing patients.

The state-run facility lost federal certification and millions of dollars in federal funding after two patients committed suicide in 2003.

State officials said they hoped the agreement would bring the facility closer to being re-certified.

Related:
"Investigation of the Vermont State Hospital -- July 2005 (U.S. Department of Justice)

http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/split/documents/vermont_findlet_7-5-05.pdf
"State, feds agree on psych hospital fix" (Vermont Guardian)
http://www.vermontguardian.com/local/072006/VSHFix.shtml

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