Health Care

Brattleboro Retreat sees more layoffs

The Brattleboro Retreat is Vermont’s largest psychiatric hospital. Photo by Kevin O’Connor/VTDigger

BRATTLEBORO — Vermont’s largest mental care facility has announced another round of layoffs. 

The Brattleboro Retreat has eliminated 19 positions within its admissions department and created 10 more positions with different job descriptions. The change comes amid an effort to restructure the facility’s programs in the name of financial sustainability. 

“Affected employees have been invited to apply for the 10 newly created roles with revised job descriptions that are consistent with the updated functions, philosophies and efficiencies inherent in the admissions redesign project,” Jeff Kelliher, a spokesperson for the Retreat, said in a statement. 

Kelliher said the overhaul of the admissions department has been in process for 18 months. 

“The redesign will have a noticeably positive effect on the hospital’s ability to field and process patient referrals, admit patients more quickly, and assign patients to an appropriate level of care,” he said. 

Employees who decline to apply for one of the created positions “may use their union seniority to claim other existing jobs at the Retreat, apply for open positions at the hospital, or leave the organization with a severance package,” Kelliher said.

The Retreat laid off 85 workers in October after cutting $8 million from its annual budget. It also eliminated five programs, including two related to opioid addiction, one that helped patients with pain management, a K-12 program and a preschool.  

Between January and October, 115 workers departed, citing clashes with leadership and concerns for staff safety. 

Financial troubles have ravaged the Retreat in recent years, and Covid-19 has furthered those impacts. The facility’s patient census has declined during the pandemic, particularly after officials stopped admitting out-of-state patients. 

The Legislature approved a total of $19.5 million for the facility last year — the state relies on the Retreat for half of its inpatient mental health capacity. Of that, a $10.2 million payment was granted in June as part of a nine-step process to move the Retreat closer toward financial independence. 

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Emma Cotton

About Emma

Emma Cotton is a Report for America corps member with a special focus on issues of importance to Southern Vermont. She previously worked as a reporter for the Addison Independent, where she covered politics, business, the arts and environmental issues. She also served as an assistant editor at Vermont Sports magazine and VT Ski + Ride. Emma majored in science journalism at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she was editor-in-chief of the Current. In 2018, she received a first-place award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association in the columnist category.

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