Proposed rules about seclusion and restraint at secure therapeutic community residences will be revisited in November; in the meantime, they’re already in place.
Thursday’s meeting of the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules incorporated a touch of time-bending to accommodate a delay in procedural considerations from the the Department of Mental Health.
Committee members extended the adoption period for a rule from the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL). Because it hinges on a pending rule in the Department of Mental Health, an emergency rule that’s identical to the proposed DAIL rule will hold its place through November. The final rule, however, potentially could be tweaked after further consideration.
DAIL Deputy Commissioner Stuart Schurr said the policy acrobatics stem from operations at the new Middlesex Therapeutic Community Residence. A legislative directive had required that patients at the seven-bed mental health facility be assured of rights at least equal to those mandated at the former Vermont State Hospital.
Despite assurances that seclusion and restraint would not be used there, some patient advocates wanted standards set, nonetheless. In case such involuntary procedures are to be utilized, they shall be carried out according to emergency involuntary procedures agreed on by the DAIL and the Department of Mental Health, Schurr said.
Those procedures are still pending, however. So DAIL will cover its bases with the emergency rule that lasts two weeks beyond the final rule’s hearing date. Both the Mental Health EIP and DAIL final rule will be reviewed — and passed, Schurr hopes — at LCAR’s Nov. 14 meeting. When that happens, it will trigger an identical clause in the emergency rule that will last until the final rule takes effect two weeks later.
The Middlesex facility itself is a temporary secure recovery unit, designed to bridge a mental health facilities gap until the larger Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin opens in mid-2014.