November 14, 2017
November 14, 2017
PHOTO: Then VSEA Executive Director Annie Noonan joined the State Hospital’s Dr. Larry Thomson to deliver testimony in 2006 about Vermont’s mental health crisis and how VSEA members think it can be effectively addressed.
The CEO of the Brattleboro Retreat posted an opinion piece on VTDigger, and he’s calling for a repeal of the federal law that requires facilities caring for persons living with mental illness to have a maximum of just 16 beds. Given the scope of the mental health crisis nationwide, the requirement does need to be lifted, but Vermonters should not forget that VSEA and mental health advocates produced a working plan as early as 2006 to construct a stand-alone, state-of-the-art mental health hospital right here in central Vermont. The plan was introduced largely because of the 16-bed federal limitation, and the VSEA/advocate plan called for 65 beds. Critics argued it would have cost millions to build at the time, but VSEA and advocates countered that it would pay for itself over a short period of time–and it would have.
One legislator who was listening was then Rep. John Rogers, who openly asked his colleagues in 2010 “Is there a reason we have to depend on this federal money?"
Below is a link to a 2010 VSEA Week In Action story about Rogers’ questioning and the Vermont State Hospital’s then-Director of Psychiatry Dr. Larry Thomson writing a letter to legislators about the VSEA plan. At the time, the Douglas Administration was proposing to allow a private entity to take over the service entirely.
Dr. Thomson was a VSEA member and leading voice for Vermonters living with mental illness. Sadly, Larry recently passed away. His voice would have been so meaningful right now, especially given the current crisis right here in Vermont.
No one can ever accuse VSEA and its members of not trying to do the right thing for Vermont and Vermont taxpayers. Shame our voices were largely ignored.
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