Vermont to use mental health beds at VA hospital

Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 12:09 PM EDT
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WHITE RIVER JUNCTION, Vt. (WCAX) - The VA Medical Center in White River Junction has begun accepting non-veteran patients to address the growing mental health crisis across the region.

At the request of the governor, the medical center is working with FEMA to take in-patients suffering from mental illness. Because of the lack of beds statewide, many of those patients are waiting in emergency rooms to get the care they need. The VA is known for its work in mental health. Officials there say this is the first time in recent memory that they have admitted civilian patients.

“Our inpatient mental health unit is still relatively small. We only have 12 beds, but I think in a moment like this, every little bit helps and the VA stands with our state partners and we stand with Vermonters to help in this moment and make sure Vermonters get the mental health care that they need,” said Brett Rusch, the medical center’s executive director.

VA officials say they received one patient Wednesday morning and are in the process of taking another one. They say they will be assessing the need on a daily basis for at least the next 30 days.

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