Feds put Brattleboro Retreat on notice


The Brattleboro Retreat is in hot water with the federal government again.

The state’s psychiatric hospital has lost its "deemed status" with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The retreat must make safety upgrades and improve treatment protocols in order to restore its standing with the federal agency.

Federal funding for the retreat will end on Oct. 6 unless the hospital can show it has met federal standards.

CMS sent the funding termination letter to the hospital on July 8. The retreat has since filed a plan of correction with the state to address the deficiencies.

A teenager attempted suicide at the retreat in June. That "sentinel event" triggered a CMS inspection, or survey, of the hospital. The patient was transferred out of state and later died.

There have been three suicides at the retreat over a two and a half year period, not including the June case. Retreat officials do not claim responsibility in the death of the adolescent who was transferred.

In the past four months there have been two suicide attempts, according to documents from CMS.

The survey found that a patient who was hopeless and expressed intent to self-harm was not reassessed by retreat staff in a timely fashion.

In addition, CMS inspectors cited several safety concerns, including a broken light fixture that could have been used for self-harm and the Retreat’s locked door policy. Two suicide attempts this year occurred during one of the two five-minute times each day patients are allowed to be in their rooms with the door locked while a staff member waits outside with a key. The doors lock from the outside.

The retreat has installed "halligan bars" to pry doors open if there is a problem.

CMS has accepted the retreat’s plan of correction and the state will conduct an inspection in the coming weeks.


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