The state of Vermont officially opened the Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence to patients Wednesday.
The $2 million secure psychiatric facility is meant to be a transitional home for patients who don’t need acute care, but aren’t quite ready to return to everyday life, due to legal issues or treatment needs. It will cost the state roughly $3 million a year to operate.
The seven-bed home is part of the state’s $43 million construction plan for a regional mental health system, which was created after Tropical Storm Irene destroyed the state’s 54-bed psychiatric hospital in Waterbury. Since then, state officials have scrambled to find open beds to treat psychiatric patients, and they say the central Vermont facility is necessary to better meet patient demand.
“I am proud of the progress we have made since Tropical Storm Irene dealt our state such a devastating blow towards building the best community-based mental health system in the country,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin said in a public statement. “This secure, seven-bed facility will give some of our most vulnerable citizens the opportunity to recover in a home setting rather than a hospital room. It will also relieve some of the strain on our hospitals, which have stepped up to fill the gap so much during the past 22 months.”
Frank Reed, acting commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, said that construction of perimeter fencing would be ongoing and the home would not be filled to capacity until August.
“We’re trying to ramp up slowly, learning from experience as we go along,” Reed said about the secure residence, the first of its kind in Vermont.