Vermont to utilize unused mental health beds at VA hospital

October 27, 2021 GMT

WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) — The state of Vermont is going to be utilizing unused mental health beds at the White River Junction veterans hospital to help alleviate strain in the state mental health system, the state announced Wednesday.

The agreement with the Department of Veterans Affairs came in response to strains in Vermont hospital emergency rooms created by higher volumes of patients requiring inpatient mental healthcare.

The agreement permits up to 10 acute mental health inpatient beds to be made available to adults, provided they would otherwise go unused.

The agreement, made in coordination with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will last for 30 days. It took effect Tuesday.

The VA is only offering the beds if they are vacant because caring for veterans remains its top priority.

“The VA has an enormous amount of skill and experience in the area of mental healthcare,” said Emily Hawes, the commissioner of the Vermont Department 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.