Local News, State News

White River Junction VA Medical Center opens mental health beds to Vermonters in need

A partnership between the Dept. of Veterans Affairs and the state will alleviate some strain in the mental health system

Agency of Human Services Secretary Mike Smith announced Oct. 27 that the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) will temporarily offer some available mental health inpatient beds at the White River Junction VA Medical Center to Vermonters requiring care. The agreement between the VA and the State was reached in response to strains in hospital emergency rooms due to higher volumes of patients requiring inpatient mental healthcare.

Made in close coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the agreement went into effect on Oct. 25, and will last for 30 days. It permits up to 10 acute mental health inpatient beds to be made available to adults, provided they would otherwise go unused.

“At a time when we have capacity challenges in our emergency rooms, getting this agreement for additional beds is critical,” said Smith. “I can’t thank the VA leadership and the staff at the White River Junction Medical Center enough.”

“The VA has an enormous amount of skill and experience in the area of mental healthcare,” said Emily Hawes, commissioner of the Dept. of Mental Health. “We are fortunate that they are willing to help us out and open their doors to non-veterans for a period of time. DMH will rely on existing collaborative relationships with our VA partners and have begun placing folks into the available beds.”

The VA is only offering beds if they are vacant, as the department’s core mission, caring for veterans, remains its top priority.

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